Proving that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Oklahoma’s attorney general may have inadvertently opened public school doors to Satanists wishing to distribute literature to students when he defended a teacher’s right to hand out Bibles to her third-grade students.
In a letter sent to Oklahoma school superintendents, Attorney General Scott Pruitt promised to defend religious freedom against “veiled legal threats” over the distribution of Bibles on campus, according to Tulsa World.
The battle over Bibles began in February when the Freedom From Religion foundation sent letters to 26 school districts that had allowed Bible distributions. The issue flared up again when the Duncan Public Schools District reluctantly agreed last week to stop a teacher from handing out Bibles to her students or face a lawsuit from the atheist group.
AG Pruitt rode to the school’s rescue on Tuesday, writing, “Few things are as sacred and as fundamental to Oklahomans as the constitutional rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion. It is a challenging time in our country for those who believe in religious liberty. Our religious freedoms are under constant attack from a variety of groups who seek to undermine our constitutional rights and threaten our founding principles.”
Pruitt’s stirring defense of religious freedom likely puts him on a collision course with the Church of Ahriman, a Satanist church in Oklahoma City, which has asked for permission to distribute Satanist literature at the same elementary school.
According to the Relgion News Service, Ahriman church leader Adam Daniels has requested permission from the school district to hand out copies of the church handbook “Ahrimani Enlightenment” to the students, stating it is “nowhere near as graphic as the Christian Bible.”
When he defended the Bible distribution, Pruitt pushed back against a threatened lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, saying they have “misrepresented” laws against passing out religious literature; an assertion which might also be applied to Satanist churches.
“The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed lawsuits around the country to aggressively advance its agenda,” Pruitt said. “The group has contacted more than one Oklahoma school with misrepresentations regarding the law, including the false categorical assertion that the law prohibits distribution of religious literature in public schools.”
In response to Pruitt’s letter, the FFRF noted that schools could not allow Bibles to be distributed while preventing other religious literature from being distributed.
“As you know, when a school opens a forum like this, they cannot limit it to bibles, but must allow all literature distributions, including by atheists, Muslims, and Satanists. FFRF did not dispute the legality of these open forums — though their legality and wisdom is questionable — it simply asked to distribute literature in the forums as well. At that point, the school districts revisited the wisdom of these forums and decided to close them altogether,” said FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel in the letter to Pruitt.
The conundrum for Oklahoma echoes a similar controversy in Indiana, where the Religious Freedom Reformation Act opened the door for the members of the First Church of Cannabis to smoke pot as part of their religious beliefs.
Satanists have previously had dealings with the traditionally conservative Oklahoma lawmakers after they planned to erect 7-foot-tall statue of goat-headed Baphomet at the state capitol in Oklahoma City.