The Duncan Public School district in Oklahoma has promised to prohibit the distribution of Bibles to students, after an atheist organization threatened legal action over what it calls “unconstitutional Bible distribution.”
The atheist group called the “American Humanist Association” sent an email to the Duncan Public school district after finding out that a teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary was handing out free Gideon Bibles during class time.
The third-grade teacher, Erica Mackey, reportedly announced to her students that she had copies of the New Testament and asked if anyone would like one. Nearly all her students came up to her desk to get copies.
The association alleged that one child felt “peer-pressured and coerced” to follow most of his classmates and take one.
The school district responded by sending a letter to the American Humanist Association assuring the group that the practice would stop.
“All teachers and administrators in the district are being advised that they are not permitted to distribute Bibles or other religious materials to students in class or during class time, wrote Scott W. Stone, legal counsel for the district.
“Teachers and administrators in the district are being advised that they should not attempt to persuade students to take Bibles or other religious materials during class time.”
Many seem to believe that the Woodrow Wilson Elementary teacher did nothing wrong.
Facebook was reportedly “flooded” with support for Mackey, who gave her students the option of a Bible.
Numerous parents, students and local residents took to the Internet to change their profile pictures and showcase Bibles that were in classrooms, all in support of the teacher at the center of the controversy.
One mother, Candice Barnes-Padilla, who has a daughter at the school, said she doesn’t see anything wrong with the teacher making the Bibles available for anyone who wanted them.
“A woman that was just handing them out, but giving them free will, if you want to take one. I don’t feel like that’s a problem,” said Barnes-Padilla.
“I hope that Duncan Public Schools can stand behind this teacher. Apparently, they need more teachers like that in our area and our school system,” she said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome