In September this year, the Satanic Temple said it would distribute literature espousing its own tenets among students in Florida after Orange County School Board allowed a Christian group to hand out Bibles and Christian reading material on school grounds. However, the idea of a group called Satanic Temple distributing reading material to students has compelled the school board to reconsider its policy of allowing the distribution of any kind of religious literature altogether. The school board met earlier this month to discuss the policy.
The Satanic Temple’s activity book, titled The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities, was to be distributed after an atheist group won a lawsuit in court and was subsequently allowed to hand out literature just as Christian groups are. However, the school board has received criticism from various quarters since then and it could actually do away with the practice altogether, something that the Satanic Temple hoped to achieve all along.
“We don't argue the merits of any one voice in a school environment,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Grieves said. “We think it's in the best interests for everyone, especially the kids, that the district not have religious materials of any kind distributed in schools.”
Grieves pointed out the fact that the school board is reconsidering its policy only goes on to show that it never intended to encourage a plurality of voices. The possible change in policy is also being met with opposition from World Changers, a Christian group that was allowed to distribute Bibles to students across the school district on three different occasions. Those very incidents led to Freedom From Religion Foundation wanting to do the same and being turned down, which then led to the lawsuit, which Orange County School Board lost.
World Changers believes a change in policy by the school board would prove to be “an attack on Christians”.
“They seem to be moving against the interests of a large part of the community,” World Changers Vice President Greg Harper said. “The Bible will open somebody's heart, somebody's mind, and cause them to pursue answers.”
Harper also said his organization is planning to distribute Bibles for the fourth time in at least 18 schools on January 16 in the New Year.
However, the school board is not expected to vote on this issue until February.
“There has to be an understanding that they probably have a student body that is generally aware of Christian teachings,” Grieves said about the overall policy. “Kids know about the Bible. They probably go to church on Sundays with their parents. But our material juxtaposed to that offers differing religious opinions, not just the view that's dominating the discourse.”
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