‘Shaky Constitutional Ground’: ACLU Challenges School District’s Bible Distribution Policy

There’s a First Amendment controversy brewing after a South Dakota school board voted to allow copies of the Bible to be distributed to fifth-grade students.

Image source: Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The American Civil Liberties Union is now working to convince the Miller School District in Miller, South Dakota, that it should reverse its decision, saying the district is stepping “onto shaky constitutional ground.”

In a letter sent to the district Monday, the South Dakota branch of the ACLU said that the school district is putting itself in a difficult position by allowing Gideons International, a Christian organization, to offer up pocket-sized copies of the New Testament.

“Under the Constitution schools cannot intentionally, or unintentionally, advance religion or become too entangled with religious groups,” the letter read. “The courts have repeatedly said that schools must also avoid favoring or appearing to favor a religious view, and they may not create any situation in which students feel coerced to participate in religion.”

The ACLU said in a statement that the New Testament distribution is concerning, especially considering students of minority faiths who might not want a copy of the Bible.

“For the last few years, we have become increasingly aware of the devastating effects that bullying has, especially on children who are isolated from their peers because of real or perceived differences in this case weather or not their accept a Bible,” the statement said.

A message left by TheBlaze for a spokesperson at the Miller School District has not been returned. It is unclear when and how the books would be distributed.

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