Press Release - 13 June 2013
by Central Florida Freethought Community (Notes) on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 8:24am
ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOLS SUED FOR DOUBLE STANDARD THAT PROMOTES EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY
Orlando, FL—The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and its local chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC), filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Orange County School Board for censorship of their literature distribution on May 2, the National Day of Reason. The CFFC distributed selected items in response to the unfettered distribution of Christian bibles in January by World Changers of Florida (WCF), but the School Board prohibited many of the submitted materials.
WCF is an evangelical Christian organization from Naples which “support[s] the biblical account of creation, including having creation theory taught in our public schools.”
David Williamson, of the CFFC, said, “Since we were unable to prevent the bible distribution in January we expected the School Board would provide us with the equal treatment we deserve. The fact that this was so blatantly denied should alarm all parents and taxpayers in Orange County.”
The School Board heavily censored literature donated by secular organizations including FFRF, American Atheists, Secular Student Alliance, American Humanist Association, and Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists. The Board prohibited the distribution of best-seller Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris, The Truth, by Robert Ingersoll, Why I am Not a Muslim, by Ibn Warraq, Jesus is Dead, by Robert Price, and What on Earth is an Atheist?, by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Also forbidden were several “nontracts” from FFRF: Dear Believer, An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible, Why Jesus?, and What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?
The Board prohibited one book because its message that Jesus was not crucified or resurrected “is age inappropriate for the maturity levels of many of the students in high school.” However, the bible that the school approved for distribution claims that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. “Permitting one viewpoint (the crucifixion and resurrection occurred) and censoring the opposing viewpoint (the crucifixion and resurrection did not occur) is unconstitutional,” the complaint states.
The CFFC plans to repeat the distribution annually unless the Board adopts a policy that would stop all distributions by outside groups that are unrelated to the students’ education.
Williamson continues: “The notion of our government promoting one religion over another or preferring religion over non-religion by has been settled long ago in the courts, yet violations continue across the country. This will no longer go unchallenged in Central Florida and we will partner with any organization, secular or faith-based, to prevent this in the future.”
Link to complaint: http://ffrf.org/uploads/legal/OCSchools-Distribution-Complaint.pdf
Central Florida Freethought Community is a secular organization focused on protecting the separation of state and church.