A humanist group has threatened to sue school officials in Duncan, Oklahoma after a local third-grade teacher distributed Bibles in class, KFOR-TV reported.
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center said in an eight-page letter that it would sue Duncan Public Schools unless it responded within a week.
“What makes this particular incident so egregious is the impressionable nature of elementary school students, who are more likely to see their public school’s involvement in disseminating religious materials as an endorsement of that religion,” an attorney for the center, Monica Miller, said in a statement. “Numerous cases make clear that public schools cannot assist the Gideons in distributing Bibles to school children.”
The Christian News reported that the teacher, Erica Mackey, offered the Bibles to her class at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School last week. Most of her students took her up on the offer.
Miller said her group was alerted to Mackey’s actions by the parents of one child who was pressured into taking one of the Bibles.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also criticized Mackey, saying she was violating the separation of church and state by offering the texts to her students.
“What we don’t let teachers do is tell a child, ‘This is what you ought to believe about God, or about faith, or about religion.’ That’s between a parent and a child,” state legal director Brady Henderson said. “That’s really all the constitution preserves in a case like this.”
While local officials are investigating the incident, KFOR reported that Mackey has garnered support among residents.
“Now all you get is kids learning about violence and things they shouldn’t,” said one resident, Alicia Rouse. “I think they should actually learn about God.”
Watch KFOR’s report on the criticism surrounding Mackey’s actions, as aired on Monday, below.