The secular ACLU has launched an aggressive campaign in an effort to block the Gideons from distributing free Bibles and Christian literature to students at public schools in Kentucky. And just as aggressively the Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom has come to the rescue to inform school districts that the ACLU is out of line and that they need not fear a lawsuit from the secular legal attack group.
Back in April, William Sharp, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Kentucky franchise, shot off a letter to 174 school districts across the state, informing them: “It has become apparent that public elementary schools throughout the Commonwealth routinely permit members of the Gideons International — a religious organization whose proselytizing methods include the distribution of Bibles and New Testaments — to distribute religious literature directly to their students during school hours."
Sharp insisted that such a practice “violates both federal and state constitutional guarantees barring governmental endorsement of religion, and it also impermissibly encroaches upon parents’ prerogative to direct the religious upbringing of their children.” Sharp complained that by allowing the Gideons to offer their encouraging materials to elementary school students during school hours, “school officials create the impression that the school endorses those religious views which subjects the students to 'subtle coercive pressure' to accept the proffered religious materials. This, the First Amendment does not allow.”
Included with Sharp's letter was an Open Records Act “request” demanding that the school districts provide the ACLU with relevant documents to determine whether or not the districts were allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles and literature to students. The letter also included a warning of impending “litigation” for those school districts that didn't knuckle under to ACLU demands that they bar the Gideons.
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