'Passive distribution' of Bibles allowed in Orange County schools
Updated On: Jan 15 2013 06:36:40 PM EST
A group of representatives from World Changers of Florida will be coming to Orange County schools on Wednesday to distribute Bibles to students for the second year in a row, according to Orange County Schools.
In what Associate General Counsel John C. Palmerini is calling "passive Bible distribution," the groups will register as volunteers, come on campus and place Bibles "on one unmanned table for distribution in a location where students normally congregate during non-instructional time," according to a memo sent to World Changers, the superintendent and school board.
A written disclaimer must also be displayed on the table, saying the literature is not sponsored or endorsed by the Orange County School Board and identifying the World Changers as the sponsor. A sign must also be put up, stating the Bible is free of charge and one copy can be taken, the memo reports.
The Bible handout is being allowed after the World Changers sued Collier County School Board for not allowing the passively distribution of bibles. The outcome resulted in the consent decree, which allows the passive distribution of Bibles under certain requirements.
The court order states that anyone must be allowed to distribute materials in a school, with certain exceptions, such as no promotion of drugs, alcohol, pornography and advertisements for products.
"We're going to abide by what the court says," said Diego Rodriguez, school district attorney. "Our expectation is, if we get sued, we'd have the same result."
Representatives aren't allowed to speak to the students and will not be present at the table, according to the memo. The bibles will be distributed at 11 Orange County schools.
"No child is to be encouraged or discouraged from participating," Rodriguez said. "This is strictly voluntary."
Orange County School District tells Local 6 they received no complaints or concerns from parents and students in the first year of the distribution. The Orange County school district attorney says he does not view the Bible distribution as a church/state issue.
Local 6 spoke to students who seemed split on if the bibles should be distributed in the schools.
"I think students should be able to have their own religion. And people shouldn't be forcing religion down their throat," said student Christian Linares, who said he didn't agree with bibles being handed out.
Student Anaja Clark said she has no problem with it.
"Well, I'm a Christian, so I would take the bible," she said. "I'm not scared of my religion."
Watch Local 6 for more on this story.