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OCPS: No Bibles Or Atheist Materials To Be Distributed On Campus

The Satanic Temple asked Orange County Public Schools if it could hand out activity books on campus. Image credit: thesatanictemple.com

The Satanic Temple asked Orange County Public Schools if it could hand out activity books on campus. Image credit: thesatanictemple.com

The Orange County Public School Board has voted to ban outside groups from distributing bibles or other religious materials in county schools.

The move follows a controversial request last year from a group called the Satanic Temple that wanted to hand out activity books.

The policy change, which passed 7-1, prohibits the distribution of “materials of a denominational, sectarian, religious, political, or partisan nature.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, school board chair Bill Sublette said he hopes the board doesn’t get sued- but if it does:

“We will not vote to open up the forum to everybody and to let the Satanic Temple distribute materials, atheists to distribute materials, bibles to be distributed, that will not be our response if we lose in Federal court,” said Sublette.

“Our response will be to close the forum to all. I think that would be an injustice to our community and all the organizations that provide wonderful programs to our students.”

Sublette said he wants to ensure that groups like Pop Warner football, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club and others can continue to hand out materials in schools.

OCPS was sued in 2013 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to allow that group to hand out secular materials.

David Williamson, who spoke on behalf of FFRF, and the Central Florida Freethought Community,  spoke out against the rule change.

“If you vote yes this evening you not only fail to resolve the issue but you choose to raise the stakes drastically and invite legal action,” said Williamson.

“Do not subject the taxpayers of this county to a continued fight. It is not your responsibility to promote the interests of any private organization, religious or not.”

Listen to OCPS board chair Bill Sublette addressing the school board meeting here:

 


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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