Religion

Ga. School Board Members Meet with Gideons Member to Distribute Bibles

| by Kendal Mitchell
article imagearticle image

Members of an international Christian organization recently addressed officials at a Georgia county school district about potentially distributing Bibles on its campuses.

Gideons International, an evangelical Christian organization that gives out free Bibles around the globe, met with board members of the Dougherty County School Systems on Wednesday to gain permission to give out Bibles at local public schools.

While some board members said they would approve the proposal, others say the distribution of Bibles in public schools goes against the Constitution.

Tommy Coleman, Dougherty County School Board attorney said he opposes the proposal because it violates the constitutional right of the separation between church and state.

"There have been specific cases about the distribution of bibles by the Gideon organization and they have almost unanimously been ruled to be unconstitutional, because it has the effect of the government sponsoring this distribution," said Coleman.

In 1993, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, ruled in Berger v. Rensselaer School. Corp. Gibeon could not distribute its bibles to elementary school students because it violated the First Amendment.

School board members in favor of the proposal said they think it is permissible to give Gibeons the opportunity to distribute Bibles in school because they think it will teach students good morals.

"I think that everyone is for that idea. And man, would it just build character just to have our children to have that opportunity,” said Dougherty County School System board member James Bush. “In fact, it ought to be taught.”

Despite the support of some board members, Coleman said he thinks this would allow the school district to favor one religion over another.

"I think the community, the majority of them, would be in favor of it. But the constitution says the government cannot foster a religion," Coleman said.

Sources: WALB, Freedom from Religion Foundation

Photo Credit: Daily Mail