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article imageJudge Rules Distributing Bibles at School is Unconstitutional

By John Rickman     Jan 10, 2008 in World
Federal judge Catherine D. Perry, of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, ruled on Tuesday that the distribution of Bibles at elementary schools by religious organizations is unconstitutional.
The judge ruled that such a distribution violated the First Amendment and said that a permanent injunction against such distributions will be ordered on the final judgment after related counts are resolved.
Meanwhile a preliminary injunction has been placed against South Iron R-1 School District forbidding the Gideons International from handing out Bibles in the school's fifth-grade classrooms
This ruling supports one issued by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit back in August. Following that ruling the school district had changed its policy and only allowed the Gideons to distribute Bibles during lunch or on campus after the end of the school day.
Judge Perry ruled that both schemes to hand out Bibles amounted to an endorsement of religion. In her official ruling she wrote: The undisputed evidence shows that both the old practice and the new policy were undertaken for the purpose of promoting Christianity and they have the effect of endorsing religion to impressionable elementary school students. The school policies violate the Establishment Clause [of the First Amendment].The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri had filed the lawsuit back in February 2006 on behalf of parents of students in the district. The school district had been distributing the Bibles in classrooms for thirty years but the school district superintendent changed the policy to prevent the Gideons from entering the classrooms. However he was over ruled by the school board.
A lawyer for the school district said he plans to file an appeal.
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