DELTA, Co. — A public school district in Colorado has agreed to allow professing atheist and satanic groups to place their materials in area middle and high schools after the organizations took issue with a recent Bible distribution by Gideon International.
In December, Gideons made Bibles available for students at public schools in Delta County. That prompted a student to complain, and led to secular groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers and the Satanic Temple to apply for similar distribution.
Kurt Clay, the assistant superintendent of the Delta County School District, told reporters this past week that the district can’t turn down the groups because of way the distribution policy is written.
“The way the policy is written, cannot discriminate what is handed out. We just have to follow the process,” he said.
The only prohibitions pertain to material that contains obscenity, pornography or violence, promotes hate, is commercial in nature or promotes a candidate in an election, as outlined in a public statement.
“Therefore, if the school district is going to make literature for things like: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, Girls on the Run, etc… available for students, we have to allow all to be available to students,” the district explained.
Although the word “distribution” is used in describing the allowance, no groups are permitted to pass anything out. Instead, the literature will be placed in a designated area on a table where students may take the material if desired. Material is reviewed for approval.
“Delta County School District is committed to supervising our schools and students. We adhere to the Constitution and fully support the separation of church and state,” the district said in its statement. “As a district we believe that our mission is to provide information to our students and teach them to think critically. We want to be able to get information to our students that will be meaningful and help them. With this belief come some consequences.”
On April 1, the atheist and satanic groups are expected to place literature in Delta County middle and high schools. FFRF said in a press release that some of the publication it may make available include “An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible,” “Why Women Need Freedom From Religion” and “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion.”
The “x-rated” brochure features a vulgar image of a Bible with arms placing its hands under a woman’s dress.
Other materials may include “What’s Wrong with the Ten Commandments and “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities.”
FFRF says that it attempted to end the Bible distribution altogether, but since the district would not back down, the groups decided to place their materials as well.
“The school district is not required to maintain this open forum and is free to close it rather than allow FFRF to distribute materials,” attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in a letter to the district earlier this month. “We do not think schools should be a battleground for religious ideas. But when schools allow the Gideons to prey on children, their message of eternal damnation for any who don’t believe in their God must be countered.”
According to KJCT-TV, parents have expressed opposition to the upcoming distribution.