The attorney general of Oklahoma earlier this month defended schools who allowed citizens to distribute Bibles to students, and claimed that the country’s religious freedoms are under attack.
"Few things are as sacred and as fundamental to Oklahomans as the constitutional rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion," Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote in a letter to public school superintendents, according to Tulsa World. "It is a challenging time in our country for those who believe in religious liberty. Our religious freedoms are under constant attack from a variety of groups who seek to undermine our constitutional rights and threaten our founding principles.”
Pruitt sent the letter in response to complaints that a third-grade teacher in the Duncan Public School district in Oklahoma distributed Gideon Bibles to her students. After the American Humanist Association threatened to sue, the school district responded by forbidding teachers or administrators from distributing religious material to students, RNS reported.
Andrew Seidel, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s attorney, told Tulsa World that the organization wrote to 26 Oklahoma school districts in February about complaints that Jamison Faught, the adult son of state Rep. George Fought, R-Muskogee, was working with Gideons International to hand out Bibles to numerous schools.
In his letter to public school superintendents, Pruitt insists that handing out religious materials in schools is constitutional.
“Under the U.S. Constitution, school districts can permit private citizens to distribute to students religious literature if the school district has in place a neutral policy that allows equal access for all Oklahomans to engage their free exercise rights,” Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Pruitt, said.
Seidel wrote to Pruitt in response: “If the goal of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is to allow public schools to be used to distribute atheist messages, then this is a brilliant idea.”