Saturday, April 17, 2021

Suit seeks to allow distribution of religious materials


A lawsuit filed in California by the Pacific Justice Institute seeks to allow a student to distribute flyers questioning the teaching of evolution in public schools during lunch at the Loomis Basin Charter School, KXTV News 10 (ABC affiliate) reports.

The district prohibited an unidentified sixth grader from distributing the flyers, which were created by an organization known as Genesis Apologetics. The Folsom, Calif.-based nonprofit “seeks to equip Christian students attending public schools and their parents with faith- building materials that reaffirm a Biblical creation worldview,” according to its website. The organization categorically denies the evidence found in science textbooks, such as Holt, Johnson & Raven’s biology book, by presenting statements that seem to affirm the factual, scientific, or historic stories presented in the Book of Genesis.

PJI is a legal advocacy group that defends individuals’ religious liberties. It’s also based in California, and earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center classified it as an “anti-LGBT hate group.” The basis for this classification may have had something to do with PJI’s statement that those who opposed their worldview, specifically school officials and LGBT activists, were trying to “suppress the truth.”

Kevin Snider, PJI’s chief counsel, was quoted as saying the sixth grade girl who can no longer distribute flyers without approval is “not seeking the school to pass these out to everyone. She’s passing them out on her own to individuals. They want students to present literature to the school for preview and for the school to fix disclaimer. We say that’s not what the Constitution provides for.”

Gordon Medd, LUSD’s superintendent, issued a statement about the charges that reads in part: “Loomis Union School District respects and values freedom of speech among students, including their right to discuss their religious beliefs with classmates. What’s at issue in this case is whether the district’s policy regarding student-distribution of promotional materials is enforceable under state law.”

In related news, the Orange County School Board in Florida currently has a policy that allows religious groups to distribute religious material, such as Bibles, at public high schools. But once atheists won the same right, the school board started to rethink this policy.

They said things had “gotten out of hand” when members of The Satanic Temple recently announced they wanted to disseminate material on the “philosophy and practice of Satanism,” Valerie Strauss reports on The Answer Sheet blog for the Washington Post.

She was reporting from a story in the Orlando Sentinel, which noted that the board was considering the prohibition of the distribution of any religious materials at the district’s high schools in order to keep the chances of becoming a national laughingstock at bay.

Why should or shouldn’t we do nice things for strangers? Read “Ma’am, Your Burger Has Been Paid For” and see Common Core writing standard WHST.11-12.1.B for more information.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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