Less than a month after a North Carolina Pagan woman caused a stir because her son's middle school allowed him to take a Bible from the school's office, some area pastors are speaking out, saying that if it was the other way around, and their children could get books about Paganism from the school, they wouldn't mind.
Rusty Smart, an associate pastor at Calvary Worship Center in Marshall, N.C., told the Citizen-Times that if his son brought home a Pagan spell book he would use it as a “teaching moment” to share his Christian beliefs with his child without bothering the school.
“All these other religions claim to coexist, but they don’t want to coexist with Christians,” said Smart. “They want to drive us out.”
Smart's son attends North Windy Ridge Intermediate School in Weaverville – the same school that found itself at the center of a controversy after Ginger Strivelli, a practicing Pagan, complained that her son received a Bible.
School officials say the Bibles were brought to the school by Gideons International and were placed in an open box from which students could take them if they wanted to. Following the complaint, the school's principal, Jackie Byerly, said she would allow other groups to offer their religious texts in the same way.
“If another group wishes to do the same, I plan on handling that the same way as I have handled this,” Byerly said in December.
But when Strivelli brought Pagan spell books to the school on Wednesday, the Citizen-Times reports, she was told that they are not allowing any religious materials to be made available to students at this time.
“It’s not fair for them to get away with changing after they already passed out their Christian propaganda,” said Strivelli.
Gray Little, pastor of North Point Baptist Church, told The Christian Post on Friday that a Pagan is the “antithesis of a Christian,” but says he would be okay with the school putting Pagan texts side-by-side with the Bibles.
"Go ahead. Make it available ... Because when you put God's Word beside anything else I don't have to defend it. I don't have to ... it will defend itself. It will rise up and do what it needs to do, and that is show the truth,” he said.
Jan Blunt, communications director for Buncombe County Schools, told The Christian Post on Friday that the school district doesn't have a written policy with regards to whether or not religious texts can be offered in schools, but is currently reviewing the legality of the district's practices.
"We're very sensitive to our community in all directions,” she said.
“We're quite a strong Christian community here. We're the home of Billy Graham so we certainly have all of that community here. Where the school is located is also ... a strong Wiccan community," she explained, adding that the district must be "sensitive to those folks too."
Although Strivelli was upset that her books weren't immediately made available to students, Blunt says it was important to deny her request until the district is confident it hasn't broken any laws.
"I think it just makes common sense, two wrongs don't necessarily make a right. So, in that vein, we're not taking any materials from anybody,” said Blunt.
Although the school has not yet released its final decision in this case, Blunt says there is a possibility that the district's attorney, Christopher Campbell, will present his legal advice at a Feb. 2 meeting of the board of education.