Saturday, February 26, 2005
No, I am not upset that a religious group was allowed to display Bibles at the middle school.
I am quite upset, however, that unnamed individuals have raised a stink about this.
The Gideons have operated in Steamboat, as well as other cities across the country, for decades. Historically, they were allowed to give a Bible to every child in a certain grade. Without debating whether this was a good or bad policy, I understand that (in the recent case) the Gideons merely sat in silence at a table in Steamboat Springs Middle School, while students had the choice to take a Bible or not.
The issue is not whether the school district can ban all non-students from entering upon a school campus during school hours. If the School Board wanted to do so, it could make all Steamboat schools closed to the public. This would prohibit non-religious groups, as well as religious groups such as the Gideons, from visiting the schools.
On the other hand, as long as non-religious groups are permitted to visit, it is a settled issue under federal law that school districts may not ban religious groups.
More fundamentally, it is difficult to understand why any parent would object to the opportunity for his or her child -- on a voluntary basis -- to take a free Bible.
Is the parent afraid that the child might learn from it? Even if the child ultimately decides to reject Christianity or Judaism, how could the child possibly be harmed by having been exposed to the book that is regarded as the foundation of Western civilization?
David B. Wilson