A Florida school district on Tuesday banned the distribution of religious materials from outside organizations after a Satanic group tried to hand out coloring books to students, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Orange County school district, which includes Orlando, had allowed religious groups to hand out materials each year on Religious Freedom Day. The Christian group World Changers distributed Bibles to students, and the board allowed the Central Florida Freethought Community to hand out atheist materials last year after the group won a lawsuit.
But when the Satanic Temple, known for trying to build a Satanist monument in the Oklahoma state capitol, tried to hand out coloring books to students, the county board of education considered changing the rules. The district postponed Religious Freedom Day, and then the school board on Tuesday voted to change its policy.
The board decided to ban the distribution of religious, political, and sectarian materials from outside groups.
“Frankly, I think, myself, that it was a mistake that we ever let World Changers distribute Bibles in our schools,” school board chair Bob Sublette (pictured above) said at the board meeting Tuesday.
The organizer for the Satanic Temple’s local chapter, who goes by Tabitha Burns, told the Orlando Sentinel she was disappointed that it took so long for the school district to change its policy
But the Satanic Temple made its point. Doug Mesner, co-founder and spokesman for The Satanic Temple, said in a September statement under the pseudonym Lucien Greaves that the group tried to hand out materials in order to call attention to the school’s policy.
“We would never seek to establish a precedent of disseminating our religious materials in public schools because we believe our constitutional values are better served by respecting a strong separation of Church and State,” he said. “However, if a public school board is going to allow religious pamphlets and full Bibles to be distributed to students — as is the case in Orange County, Florida — we think the responsible thing to do is to ensure that these students are given access to a variety of differing religious opinions, as opposed to standing idly by while one religious voice dominates the discourse and delivers propaganda to youth.”