Members of Gideons International and the Findlay City Schools in Findlay, Ohio, are facing scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union after Gideons stood near a school building to pass out Bibles to students as they left school.
The Associated Press reported that the ACLU is threatening to sue in what they say is a blatant disregard for the separation of church and state. According to the report, fifth grade students from all five of the city’s elementary schools left class one day in March and were escorted to nearby sidewalks where Gideons gave students free Bibles. Students were not required to take Bibles.
Findlay City School Superintendent Dean Wittwer said the district is reviewing its policy for receiving materials from community groups. Christine Link, the executive director of ACLU for Ohio, told reporters that it’s unacceptable for the school to sacrifice class time for easy access to Bibles.
Conflicting reports from WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio, however assert that the students received the Bibles after leaving school – outside of the parameters of the school day. It’s also not clear whether or not the Gideons were standing on sidewalks or on school grounds.
Chris Brooks, principal at Bigelow Hill Elementary School in Findlay, told reporters, “You’ve got to look at the context of the community. This is a Christian community. I’m not saying everybody is, but that’s where Findlay is.”
Gideon Bibles contain the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Many of them are pocket-sized.
Findlay has a population of about 38,000 and is 50 miles south of Toledo and 100 miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio.