Schools in White County, Tenn., have agreed to stop allowing the Gideons to distribute Bibles in classrooms after the ACLU threatened a lawsuit. The Gideons entered a classroom at Doyle Elementary School in Doyle, about 100 miles east of Nashville, and invited students to take a Bible if they wanted one. The ACLU became involved after one girl complained that she felt pressured into taking a Bible.
This isn't the first time Tennessee schools have attracted the attention of the ACLU. Several schools in Sumner County have been slapped with lawsuits for First Amendment infringements, including allowing the student Bible club to pray over loudspeakers during morning announcements, schools' websites linking to Christian prayer groups, and a teacher hanging a cross in her classroom.
Reactions to the lawsuits are split, with comments on the stories ranging from, “I wonder if I can go hand out Bhagavad Gita on school property and tell kids about the wonders of Hinduism?” to “[I]f the kids are not allowed to pray and worship God in the very school buildings that our tax dollars paid for, then their civil liberties are being violated.” The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty said in a blog posting, “Gideons has (sic) been involved in so many of these complaints, why can't they help school district (sic) avoid such blatant violations of church-state law?”