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Associated Press
New Orleans – Tangipahoa Parish public schools must stop in-school Bible giveaways to students, a federal judge ruled.
“Distribution of Bibles is a religious activity without a secular purpose” and amounts to school board promotion of Christianity, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier ruled.
As requested by both sides, Barbier made a summary judgment based only on the written briefs – something judges may do only if the law is absolutely clear.
But attorney Christopher M. Moody said he thinks the Tangipahoa Parish School Board is likely to ask the 5th U.S. Court of Appeal to overturn Barbier’s decision, though he hadn’t yet consulted with the board. “We think there’s a very good chance” of a reversal, he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed the suit for an anonymous family whose daughter said she felt pressured into taking a Bible even though she doesn’t believe in God. The girl was called Jane Roe and her father John Roe out of fear of retaliation by schoolmates and neighbors, the ACLU has said.
“Jane Roe states that she accepted the Bible because if she did not, her classmates would have ‘picked on’ her,” Barbier wrote. “She feared they would call her ‘devil worshipper.'”
Marjorie R. Esman, executive director of the ACLU chapter, said, “A child shouldn’t have to choose between her family’s beliefs and the wishes of school administrators.”
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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