On Jan. 16, World Changers of Florida used the [limited public forum created by the district] to distribute New International Version bibles to students in 11 schools. WCF “support[s] the biblical account of creation, including having creation theory taught in our public schools” and “speak[s] out against humanistic views contrary to the biblically based founding fathers’ constitutional vision.”
Nothing like some biblically-based science denial and historical revisionism to create some young, enthusiastic God warriors!
The complaint asserts that the district “did not object to a single word in [the WCF] Bible, but approved it fully and without comment.”
In response to this, the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to the school board, asking that they not allow any outside group to distribute literature that would, in effect, turn it into some kind of religious ideological battleground. Doing so would presumably prohibit specifically “atheist” literature as well, though obviously not anything promoting well established scientific theories like Big Bang cosmology or the theory of evolution.
Not so surprisingly, Orange County School District refused. So, as with the recent decision to keep the monument of the Ten Commandments on the lawn of the Florida courthouse, the FFRF proposed they put together a collection of literature they could hand out themselves on May 2, the National Day of Prayer.
This time, the school board had plenty to say about content, and axed a few things along the way.
The complaint lists dozens of factual examples of how secular materials and secular volunteers were treated differently from the World Changers and the biblical material:
- The district prohibited four of FFRF’s five books, leaving part of one (Part III of Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”) and several small pamphlets. “Good Without God” stickers were prohibited.
- The district objected to the Harris book for describing “the sacrifice of virgins, killing and eating of children in order to ensure the future fertility of mothers, feeding infants to sharks, and the burning of widows so they can follow their husbands into the next world.” FFRF’s complaint notes that the concepts flagged as age inappropriate all appear in the bible.
- WCF put up interactive whiteboards, had volunteers staffing tables to talk with students and passed out invitations to worship at the Orlando Wesleyan Church. Plaintiffs attempted to pass out a pizza party invitation but were censored at several schools. Freethought volunteers had to wait up to an hour at some schools to set up.
It absolutely boggles the mind to hear that literature containing ideas like human sacrifice and cannibalism is only deemed appropriate when it’s in the Holy Bible. They even banned one book that proposed that Jesus wasn’t crucified or resurrected because of the maturity level of the target audience.
I’ll let you chew on that one for a moment. Shortly thereafter, the FFRF filed their lawsuit.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit June 13 in U.S. District Court in Florida against the Orange County School Board in Orlando for censoring distribution of freethought materials while allowing unfettered distribution of the Christian bible.
Again, the original proposed solution to this issue – from the Freedom From Religion Foundation itself – had been to stop the distribution of any kind of religious (or atheist) themed literature in order to avoid turning the limited public forum into an ideological war zone. Orange County didn’t want to hear it, and instead is using the situation to selectively restrict anti- (or at least non-) Christian material. For what it’s worth, I would guess that they’d do the same thing to Muslim or Wiccan literature as well.
Taking the legal implications of the situation out of the picture for a moment, consider this: the school district has just allowed – without comment or restriction – a group of people who deny science when it gives them an answer they don’t like and re-writes history to pretend our founders were intent on creating a nation based on a particular religion. No matter who they are or what faith they have, this kind of misinformation doesn’t belong in our schools, and should have been prohibited on that basis alone.
It’s only the institutionalized privilege Christianity has established in this nation that is still allowing it to to continue these unconscionable practices largely unhindered.