After coming under fire from atheist groups for the distribution of free Bibles, the Delta County School District (DCSD) has approved the circulation of atheistic, secular and Satanic literature to middle and high school students.
Several atheist organizations, including The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) and the Satanic Temple, applied to distribute their literature as a challenge to the school district’s “open forum” policy that allows any group to distribute non-curricular literature to students, as long as it conforms to policy guidelines.
Kurt Clay, the Assistant Superintendent of the Delta School District, said if they are going to make literature for things such as Boy Scouts, 4H or other organizations available, they have to allow all types of information to be available to students.
“This is the other side of that,” explained Kurt Clay, the Assistant Superintendent. “The policy says we cannot discriminate what is handed out, we just have to follow the process.”
Certain exceptions exist, and the materials can’t advocate criminal behavior, violence or drug use, advertise commercial products, or be pornographic. The School District has appealed to this policy as a justification for distributing Gideon Bibles to students on school grounds during class hours.
In December, 2015, a Delta Middle School student complained about the offering of Gideon Bibles to students and the Western Colorado Atheist and Freethinkers said that the distribution of those bibles prompted their desire to distribute atheist material as well.
The distribution of the atheistic materials will take place on April 1, 2016. The proponents of the new materials say that they are offering Delta students an alternative way of thinking.
Some of the brochures to be offered to students include “Top 10 Public School State-Church Violations and How to Stop Them,” “What’s Wrong with the Ten Commandments?” and “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities.”
Ann Landman with the Western Colorado Atheist and Freethinkers says the issue in play here is freedom of speech.
“Students are not only getting a lesson about the federal laws and our constitution, but also a different point of view that you can find around the world,” Landman contended.
But Western Colorado Atheist and Freethinkers have said that what they are really after is a change of policy, to separate religion and schools, and believe that by handing out provocative literature they will achieve this end.
The Delta School District has already stated that they are looking into revising their policy to continue providing materials that benefit students, but do not include material on religion or beliefs.