A prominent atheist activist organization has sent letters to school districts throughout Oklahoma in an effort to stop Bible distributions in public schools.
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent the letter to 26 school districts after it was made aware that Jamison Faught, son of Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee), had distributed Bibles with Gideon International to schools throughout the state.
“It is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the distribution of Bibles as part of the public school day,” the letter, written by Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel, reads. “Courts have uniformly held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools is prohibited.”
The correspondence also likened Gideon International to child predators in sharing the Scriptures with children.
“Parents carefully instruct their children not to accept any gifts from strangers. The Gideon practice of distributing bibles to schoolchildren teaches them to ignore that guidance,” Seidel stated. “This predatory conduct is inappropriate and should raise many red flags.”
He asked that the districts prohibit Bible distribution efforts at public schools in the future.
The matter came to the attention of FFRF after Faught had posted about the evangelistic effort on his Facebook page.
“Spending the morning with fellow Gideons passing out Bibles to 5th grade students in Checotah, Eufaula and Stidham,” he wrote.
Faught also responded to a friend who expressed surprise that he was allowed to do so, “Last several years, we’ve been able to do it at every school in McIntosh, Okmulgee and Ofuskee counties except one or two. Last year, the Checotah principal not only personally took us to each classroom, but he helped us hand them out!”
Word then reached FFRF, which regularly fights against Bible distribution in schools, spurring the organization to send out letters in an attempt to halt the practice.
But there is no word yet as to whether any of the school districts that receive the correspondence will respond or agree to FFRF’s demands. Faught’s father is supportive of his son’s evangelistic endeavors, and doesn’t believe that officials should back down for the atheist organization, which he says uses “scare tactics.”
“Passing out the scriptures—you certainly can’t be blamed for that,” he told the Associated Press. “The great thing about Oklahoma is that I’ve been at a lot of school activities where—at least in our area—we still pray before football games. Some people pray before meetings and certainly honor our God-given rights.”
Jamison Faught also told the New American that student receipt of the Bibles is completely voluntary.
“We don’t force Bibles on anybody. We simply ask if anyone would like them,” he said.
As previously reported, the first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in colonial schools for at least one hundred years. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.
“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all,” it read, in teaching children the alphabet, using Adam as an example of the letter A.
In 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed “The Old Deluder Satan Act,” which required that children be taught to read so they could learn to read the Bible.
“In being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, … and that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers in Church and Commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors, it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof, that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read,” it read in part.