The Orange County School Board last week discussed reversing its policy that allows religious groups to hand out materials at public schools after the Satanic Temple began handing out coloring books to students, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“This really has, frankly, gotten out of hand,” board chairman Bill Sublette said during a workshop on Thursday. “I think we’ve seen a group or groups take advantage of the open forum we’ve had.”
Though the board discussed reversing the policy on Thursday, it won’t vote on the matter until early next year.
The policy allows groups to hand out Bibles and some atheist pamphlets, and the Satanic Temple decided to start handing out its own materials about Satanism to make sure that students are exposed to various beliefs.
“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,” Doug Mesner, co-founder and spokesman for The Satanic Temple, said in a statement under the pseudonym Lucien Greaves. “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.”
Though the Satanic Temple did not support the school board’s original policy, Mesner criticized the boards decision to rethink the rule.
“It strongly implies they never intended to have a plurality of voices,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.
The Satanic Temple is known for its efforts to erect an Satanist monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol in response to the capitol’s Ten Commandments monument.
The group also started a campaign to seek a religious exemption from laws that restrict access to abortions after the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. The Satanic Temple said that “informed consent” laws violate its religious freedom.
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