A school district in southeast Texas will stop handing out Bibles to students after complaints from a nontheist group.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation first contacted the West Orange-Cove School District in 2014 after several parents complained that Bibles were distributed to kids at West Orange-Stark Elementary School. The district has more than 2,500 children enrolled in five schools serving the community of Orange, about 300 miles southeast of Dallas, according to 2010 statistics cited by Wikipedia.
The FFRF asked the district to stop distributing Bibles to students there, according to a statement from the organization.
"Courts have uniformily held that the distribution of bibles to students during the school day is prohibited," Sam Grover, a staff attorney for the non-profit, wrote in a January letter to the district. "There is no excuse or justification for this practice. It is unnecessary, offensive and illegal."
After back and forth communication between the district's lawyers and the FFRF, the district agreed to stop the practice of distributing Bibles to kids.
A letter from the school's legal counsel, dated Feb. 1, informed the FFRF that attorneys had advised the district's superintendent to follow the law, which prohibits dissemination of religious materials by staff during the school day.
"We anticipate no further issues in the future," the school's attorneys told the FFRF.
In its statement, the FFRF said it welcomed the district's decision, adding that the distribution of Bibles could make other students uncomfortable and lead to non-Christian students getting bullied.
"Public schools are constitutionally obligated to be neutral toward religion," Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, wrote in the statement. "By circulating — or allowing religious material to be circulated — a school becomes entwined with religiosity of a particular type, to the detriment of students who don't agree with that particular message."