- (Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar)
A Pagan mother in North Carolina is upset that her son received a Bible while at school, claiming the school has no right to give her son religious texts – Christian, Pagan, or otherwise.
Ginger Strivelli, a practicing Pagan, was upset when her son brought home a Bible he received at his public middle school, North Windy Ridge in the city of Weaverville. But what made her more upset was that school officials refused to apologize, reported the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Jackie Byerly, principal at the school, said the Bibles were not “handed out,” but were simply made available for students to take one if they wished. The Bibles were brought to the school by Gideons International, who left an open box of Bibles in the school's front office.
Byerly added that if other religious groups want to make books available to students, she would not have a problem with that.
“If another group wishes to do the same, I plan on handling that the same way as I have handled this,” she said.
Jan Blunt, spokeswoman for Buncombe County, said students are not coerced into taking Bibles, but an announcement is made and teachers inform students that Bibles are available in the main office.
However, Strivelli argues that making an announcement in itself is a form of coercion, since students have an opportunity to leave class and will no doubt do so when given the chance. She also claims that a teacher physically handed her son the Bible.
Ken Stephens, communications director at Gideons International, told The Christian Post Tuesday that he was unaware of this particular case, but insisted that it is not the policy of his organization to have teachers “hand out” Bibles.
“That would not typically be the way we do it,” Stephens said, adding that it is not uncommon for Gideons representatives to themselves sometimes hand out Bibles, and all Bible distribution is done in cooperation with school administration.
Strivelli insists that she is not trying to attack Christianity by complaining about her son receiving a Bible.
“I would be just as angry if it had been Jewish, Hindu, Pagan or Muslim,” she said, according to the Citizen-Times.
Strivelli also argued that if students need a permission slip to watch a PG-rated movie at school, which was the case when her son brought home a permission slip to watch “How to Train Your Dragon,” they should need a permission slip to read a book as controversial as the Bible.
When asked if Gideons worry about offending parents who do not wish their children to be exposed to the Bible without permission, Stephens said, “It is between parent and child what they deem appropriate, but I hope they don't find it offensive.”