Oklahoma teacher under fire for handing out Bibles at school

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DUNCAN, Okla. -- A national group is threatening to sue Duncan Public Schools after an Oklahoma teacher handed out Bibles at school.

While the national humanist group threatening to sue got word from one concerned parent, most of the folks in Duncan are overwhelmingly in support of the teacher in question.

Opponents to the act say that teacher’s actions were unconstitutional since it happened at a public elementary school.

According to an eight-page letter from the Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney, a third grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary told her class “she had the holy Bible and asked if anyone would like one.” After seeing his classmates all get one, the group’s attorney says “one child felt peer-pressured and coerced to do the same.”

“Religion is a matter of choice is between students and parents,” ACLU Legal Director Brady Henderson said.

The ACLU says the teacher violated the separation of church and state.

“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. That's really all the constitution preserves in a case like this,” Henderson said.

The school’s attorney told NewsChannel 4 the district is trying to separate rumors from the truth.

The community voiced a lot of support for the teacher Monday.

“Now all you get is kids learning about violence and things they shouldn't, I think they should actually learn about God,” Alicia Rouse said.

Legal experts say the existence of a Bible at school doesn’t matter. The problem lies in the fact that the teacher was handing them out.

“It would be the same violation if the teacher gave out a Koran, a Talmud, it's all about who the players are in that equation,” Henderson said.

It’s an equation some are adamant should include the Word of God.

“In my parents' generation, when God was still allowed in school and prayer, the biggest problem was kids chewing gum in class. Put God back in and get rid of the thugs and gangsters and drugs,” James Hatcher said.

We asked if the accused teacher is still in the classroom this week, and the district said it wouldn’t comment on a personnel issue.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is demanding the Duncan teachers be instructed not to distribute any more Bibles.

The group says it wants a response within a week, or it will sue.

 

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