ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida school board has moved to change its policies to ban the distribution of Bibles and all other religious materials after a New York-based Satanic organization sought to distribute coloring books to students.
“This really has, frankly, gotten out of hand,” Orange County Chairman Bill Sublette told reporters this week. “I think we’ve seen a group or groups take advantage of the open forum we’ve had.”
Sublette is among those that are considering adjusting the current distribution policy, which would not only thwart efforts to distribute Satanic coloring books in schools, but also end the distribution of Bibles in schools as well.
As previously reported, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) learned last year that a Christian ministry had made Bibles available to Orlando high school students on “Religious Freedom Day.” To counter the Bible distribution, FFRF sought permission from the school district to give students a variety of atheistic and anti-Christian materials.
According to reports, the Orange County School Board permitted FFRF to distribute several books and pamphlets, including a booklet entitled “What’s Wrong With The Ten Commandments?” and a brochure entitled “What Is An Atheist?” However, the board prohibited FFRF from giving students several other publications, citing the materials’ “disruptive” and inappropriate content.
FFRF promptly sued the school board for not allowing the distribution of the materials, and eventually it complied with the organization’s demands. In July, a district judge officially dismissed the FFRF lawsuit, thus giving the green light to the in-school distribution of atheistic materials.
Following the decision, the New York-based Satanic Temple announced in September that it would likewise distribute its publications to area schools so that it can have its equal time before students.
“I am quite certain that all of the children in these Florida schools are already aware of the Christian religion and it’s Bible, and this might be the first exposure these children have to the actual practice of Satanism,” spokesperson Lucien Greaves wrote in a recent press release about the matter. “We think many students will be very curious to see what we offer.”
One of the items that the group seeks to distribute The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities, which includes a coloring page that features “Annabel’s study filled with Satanic literature and philosophy,” a pentagram connect the dots complete with a goat’s head, and a secret code that reads “Satana Blessed Be.”
But the Orange County School board says that the distribution policy is being abused through these efforts and has become a distraction to the learning environment. It is now moving to consequently ban the distribution of all religious materials in order to end the competition between the various groups.
“In my office alone I had received close to 11,000 emails in one period on this issue, and it gives you an idea of the level of disruption it was causing,” Sublette told reporters this past week.
“Everyone’s upset about the Satanists and the atheists coming,” added board member Christine Moore.
But while the Satanic Temple and the Freethought Community are now happy about the proposed policy change, which will be discussed at future meetings early next year, others opine that the banning of Christian material is what the Satanists and atheists really wanted all along.
“The Bible distributions are a good thing,” Roger Gannam of Liberty Counsel told local television station WOFL. “They haven’t caused any problems, but now by creating controversy this group is maybe perhaps getting what it wants.”