ACLU Bans Gideons at Region 8 School

January 24, 2007--Posted at 6:15 p.m. CST

HIGHLAND, AR--Blocking the Bible, a group says a Region 8 school was wrong when it allowed Bibles to be distributed to students. The American Civil Liberties Union recently sent a letter to Arkansas public schools concerning the distribution of religious materials on school grounds.

The letter was sent out after receiving several complaints about the Gideon's practice of passing out Bibles to 5th graders.

According to the ACLU the letter was sent out to schools across the state. This comes after a complaint was filed by a parent in the Highland School District, where the Gideon's were at the school passing out Bibles. It's a practice the ACLU says is unconstitutional on school property; however residents feel it's a practice that they come to expect from their community.

"I have always been proud of the fact that here at Highland we can express our religious freedom and beliefs. I am very disappointed that one person can dictate what happens for the rest of the school," said 5th grade parent Shannon Harris.

She feels like it's another example of the ACLU speaking for the minority.

"I think we need to realize that a few people don't speak for the entire school system and our school board needs to stand up and say that's not what we are about," said Harris.

Lenice Hansen's four children received Gideon Bibles when they attended the Highland School District. She feels this long standing tradition is symbolic of the community.

"Anyone I have talked to isn't happy about the Gideon's being thrown out of the school there. We want all the help we can get, these kids need to know about Jesus," said Hansen.

Following the letter from the ACLU the Highland School Board voted to not let religious presentations continue in school.

"They aren't for doing what they did at all. They feel like they have been forced into preventing the Gideon's from entering the school, because they are afraid of a lawsuit," said Hansen.

This isn't the first time one parents complaint has lead to a policy change at the school. A few years ago, one complaint led to the banning of prayer at athletic games. However, the community didn't take the decision quietly on the sidelines.

"The entire stadium and everyone around me that I saw just started spontaneously saying the Lord's prayer, because we know that is what the Lord would want us to do," said Harris.

Most of the parents are unsure how they will fight this latest decision. Not all the parents we spoke with were against the banning of the Gideon Bibles. One parent feels that it is her job to decide if her child receives a bible.

We also contacted the Gideon's who declined an interview.