Group protests distribution of Gideon bibles at DeSoto schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

UPDATED: Group protests distribution of Gideon bibles at DeSoto schools

(WMC-TV) - After an atheist group asked DeSoto County Schools to stop praying before school events or face legal action, the same group is now demanding the district to stop allowing Gideon International, a Christian missionary group, to distribute bibles during school sponsored activities.

"We want to protect small children from religious predators," the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Annie Laurie Gaylor said Wednesday. "Whether they are predators over the speakers at a football game or whether they are coming into the schools illegally to push their bibles on small children."

In a letter to DeSoto County Schools, the FFRF alleges that distributing bibles on campus during instructional time directly violates a Supreme Court ruling.  But some DeSoto County residents don't seem to mind.

"I'm for the Gideons," Janice Howlett said. "I believe in all kinds of people going on to the campus handing out different things. They're not forcing people to take them. They're giving them out, and if you want it, you take it, and if you don't, you don't."

"Any way we can get the bible to people we should, but they also need to respect the separation of church and state and not take it onto the campus property," pastor Clint Jones said.

What if other religious groups decided to pass out religious texts on campus?

"A Muslim can offer me anything he wants, but that doesn't mean you have to take it," Howlett said. "Jehovah Witnesses come by my house all the time. I just tell them no thank you. So that's what this is all about - religious freedom."

For the most part, Jones agreed.

"I would probably be uncomfortable, not with Jewish, but with all the problems we've had with the Muslims," he said.  But, I think as a country, they have a right just like any other organization."

In a written statement, DeSoto County Schools superintendent Milton Kuykendall said the situation was being looked into.

"We're investigating the matter, and the DeSoto County School District will make a decision and issue a statement once our attorney has completed the investigation," he said.

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