An incident at the Auburn School in November has resulted in the Logan County School Board getting a “cease and desist” letter from the Kentucky Equality Federation.
The letter, which is dated Jan. 31, 2013, asks the school system to stop allowing Bibles to be handed out on school grounds.
According to Logan County superintendent Marshall Kemp, the Gideons were at the Auburn school in November handing out Bibles.
“The Gideons have given Bibles out for a very long time in our schools,” Kemp said. “The proper way is on a voluntary basis, where they put the Bibles on a table and if a child wants it, they can pick it up.”
Kemp said that it was legal for the group to come to a school, set up a table with Bibles on it and allow them to be handed out passively to any student that wishes to take one.
“It wasn’t done that way at Auburn,” Kemp said. “One was handed to each child.”
A parent, referred to only as “Ms. Alms” in the cease and desist letter, then apparently contacted the Kentucky Equality Federation about the incident.
“I believe in God and I know God loves all people. I am a practicing Christian, and I also practice Taoism. However, a public school is not the proper venue to distribute religious materials of any type,” Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer said in a news release. “This practice will cease immediately or I will instruct our legal department to sue the Logan County School District. I will teach my children about religion at home. We again are notifying the Kentucky Department of Education and the Office of Kentucky Education Secretary, Mr. Joseph U. Meyer.”
According to its website, the Kentucky Equality Federation is, “Kentucky’s largest all-volunteer grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (“LGBTI”) civil rights and advocacy organization for both social and political equality. Kentucky Equality Federation is a diverse organization consisting of several corporations and groups with a common cause for Peace, Liberty, and Equality for All.”
Kemp said this was the first time anyone had complained about the Gideons giving away Bibles in the school system.
Kemp said that in the past, he has sent out information to principals about the correct way of allowing the Bibles to be distributed.
“I don’t remember exactly when I did that, though, and some of our newer principals may not have gotten that,” Kemp said.
Kemp said as far as he knows, the Gideons have not requested to hand out Bibles in the Logan County schools since the November incident.
“Not to my knowledge - no one has told me if they have,” Kemp said. “They don’t ask me in the first place, though. They ask the principals and the principals are supposed to know how to handle it so that this sort of things doesn’t happen.”
Kemp said he was unsure what the school system would do going forward.
He said that the matter could be left up to the individual schools’ site-based decision making councils - or the school board may make a policy for the entire district.