WEAVERVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A Buncombe County school that last month made Bibles available to young children is turning away an offer to do the same for books on pagan beliefs.
Ginger Strivelli’s fifth-grade son last month brought home a Bible given away at North Windy Ridge school, but when she offered free copies of books explaining her pagan faith on Wednesday she was told administrators were not accepting any religious materials while they review current policies.
“I’m not surprised a bit. That’s fully what I expected,” Strivelli said. “They’re changing the policy, which is wonderful. They shouldn’t (allow) it, but they shouldn’t have done it to start with. That makes it unfair after they have given out Christian propaganda.”
Strivelli said her son felt peer pressure to collect the Bible he brought home last month. While she’s happy the school district is reviewing its policies on religious materials, “they should’ve had the correct policy in place to start with.”
Local members of Gideons International who dropped off the Bibles called and apologized for the attention and picked up the remaining copies less than 48 hours after they were dropped off, county schools spokeswoman Jan Blunt said.
The re-evaluation comes after the state’s largest civil liberties group said the school overstepped its bounds. A 1998 federal court decision in a West Virginia case determined that religious literature can be left for high school students, but not at elementary schools, American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation legal director Katy Parker said last month.
The resulting reaction made the school system review its practice of making Bibles available in an office and giving students the option to pick them up, Blunt said.
“This whole thing has raised an issue of ‘were we in compliance with any laws or were we not?’” Blunt said. “Perhaps we were in the wrong, and that’s why we’re going to review.”
Buncombe County schools received mixed feedback after word of the Bible give-away reached the news, Blunt said, including an offer from someone in New York who offered 500 copies of the Quran.
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