ADF to S.D. school: Ignore empty ACLU threats
Bibles are a constitutional part of inclusive literature distribution program, cannot be singled out for exclusion
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
— Alliance Defending Freedom sent Miller School District in South Dakota a letter
Monday after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened the school
for allowing Gideon Bibles to be distributed. The letter corrects the ACLU’s misinformation that such distribution is unconstitutional by explaining that courts have upheld neutral policies that allow Gideon Bibles to be distributed along with other literature.
“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “That’s why schools frequently allow a wide array of groups to distribute literature of various sorts to students. Singling out the Gideons while allowing other groups to distribute literature would be clearly unconstitutional.”
The ADF letter explains that “federal case law consistently affirms private organizations’ right to share religious literature at public schools on equal terms with those promoting non-religious material.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over South Dakota, has agreed with federal precedent permitting “school districts to allow community groups, like the Gideons, to make Bibles and other religious materials available to students.”
The letter also notes that the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th and 6th Circuits have upheld the Gideons’ right to distribute literature to public school students on equal terms with secular groups.
“The First Amendment does not allow religious speech to be singled out for discrimination,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “South Dakota schools should not allow the ACLU to brow beat them into a constitutional violation.”
· Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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