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ACLU seeks to prohibit Bible distribution in grade school

Associated Press

3/1/06


ST. LOUIS - A southeast Missouri school district should be barred from allowing a Bible giveaway program to fifth-graders, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, seeks an injunction prohibiting South Iron Elementary School in Annapolis from allowing Gideons International into the classroom to distribute the Bibles. Tony Rothert, legal director with ACLU of Eastern Missouri, said the suit was filed on behalf of two sets of parents from the district.

"The primary objection here is the Bibles are presented during class time in a public school," Rothert said.

School board president Jim Scaggs said he was unaware of the lawsuit and declined comment. A spokesman for Gideons International also declined comment.

For years, the school in the town of 300 residents quietly allowed the Gideons to hand out Bibles to children in the fifth grade. Last fall, the school board voted 4-3 to allow the Bible distribution practice to continue.

The Bibles were given to children in October, and another giveaway isn't expected until the 2006-07 school year, officials said.

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