Federal Court Rules that Bible Distribution in Public School Violated the Constitution

September 27, 2001 12:00 am

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ALEXANDRIA, LA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today applauded the 28-page opinion written by U.S. District Judge F.A. Little, Jr., in which he ruled that the distribution of bibles by a Rapides Parish school principal to his students violated the United States and Louisiana Constitutions.

The court also issued a permanent order prohibiting the Rapides Parish School Board and its employees from distributing bibles in the future.

“The judge’s reliance upon sound constitutional principles and Supreme Court precedents shows why our founders insisted on preventing the entanglement of government and religion, which has served us well for over 200 years,” said Joe Cook, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the Rapides Parish School Board and Principal John Cotton of Pineville Elementary in April of this year on behalf of an 11-year-old Muslim girl who was humiliated, harassed and ostracized in her own school when she initially refused to accept a bible from Principal Cotton. Later, she was forced to participate in a classroom quiz game about Jesus.

“”Public school officials have the highest duty to obey the law,”” said Cook. “”Keeping our public schools inclusive and secular by teaching tolerance and respect for persons with different religious, political or philosophical beliefs, is especially important these days following the September 11 tragedy.””

To read more about this case go to http://archive.aclu.org/news/2001/n041001b.html.

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