Yet another Kentucky school district is determined to violate the First Amendment rights of its students by shoving Bibles at the students. Kentucky Equality Federation has already warned the Logan Count School District about the practice and demanded it being halted immediately.
I am the Vice President of Legal for the Kentucky Equality Federation, and write on behalf of the organization to support Ms. Alms and any other parents who rightfully find issue with the practice of allowing this distribution on school property, as it is in direct violation of both the U.S. Constitution and Section V of the Kentucky Constitution.
In your most recent response, you cited the case Peck v. Upshur Co. Board of Educ., 155 F.3d 274 (4th Cir. 1998). While this case (which as you know is only persuasive, not binding in the Commonwealth of Kentucky) does address the issue of Bible distribution in public schools and permits a passive offering of such materials in a limited manner, the Court specifically finds this Constitutional only as it applies to secondary school students. The court noted that “in elementary schools, the concerns animating the coercion principle are at their strongest because of the impressionability of young elementary-age children.
KEF President Jordan Palmer stated that “I believe in God and I know that God loves all people. However, a public school is not the proper venue to distribute religious materials of any type. This practice will cease immediately or I will instruct our legal department to sue the Logan County School District. We again are notifying the Kentucky Department of Education and the Office of Kentucky Education Secretary, Mr. Joseph U. Meyer. I have taken the liberty of copying Secretary Meyer and his staff on this email.”
KEF’s Chairman of the Board Brandon Combs said “Simply stated, what is occurring in Logan County schools is unconstitutional. The response given by the Logan County School District’s hired counsel is a red herring, at best. At worst, it demonstrates the acceptance of negligent behavior by the district’s personnel. This incident occurred in an elementary school. At this age range, religious studies should be directed by the each student’s family, not the school district.”
KEF Religious Outreach Director, Minister Edith Baker, added to this saying “Here is the foundation of this matter; if Christians are ‘allowed to pass out Bibles,’ then all other religion and non religious groups, including the ‘Church of Satan’ will have this right. As a Christian believer since childhood, and an ordained minister, I believe we have enough homes, churches and other public venues to provide this service.
KEF Vice Chairman Gary Fowler added “I think the response provided by the school district’s attorney is a standard scapegoat. The case cited had no bearing on this case as was quoted regarding allowing the passive distribution of these materials. It is my understanding and their admission that this was anything but a passive distribution because each child was handed the material and expected to take it. Also, the letter eludes to the individual distributing these materials as a long time member of the community which in turn, at least to me, suggests that the knowledge of what type of material this man was bringing for active distribution was implied.”