Contact: Anthony Rothert

?Legal Director

?(314) 361-2111?

ACLU Challenges Distribution of Bibles to Fifth Graders??

ST. LOUIS, February, 2006 - The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, on behalf of parents with children in the South Iron Elementary School, Annapolis, asked a federal court to end the practice of allowing an outside religious group to distribute Bibles to fifth graders during class time.

In early 2005, Superintendent M. Homer Lewis, following the advice of the school’s attorney, insurance carrier and others, sought to discontinue the practice of allowing members of the Gideon Society to come to the elementary school to disburse Bibles to students. The school board, by a vote of 4-3, overruled Lewis and directed that the Bible distribution continue.

The complaint seeks an injunction prohibiting the South Iron Schools from continuing to allow outsiders into their classrooms for religious purposes. It was filed in the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri by ACLU cooperating attorney Lenny Frankel.

“Religious liberty is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights,” said Brenda Jones, executive director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, “and religious liberty is best protected by keeping the government out of the realm of religions.”

“The ACLU and others have made numerous attempts to work with the school board to fix this problem,” Rothert said. “Unfortunately, by one vote, the board has decided to thumb its nose at the Bill of Rights. This lawsuit is the result.”?