Still contentious after consensus

Gideons International wanted to distribute Bibles in schools in Brunswick County, North Carolina.. It looks like it'll happen: but it almost didn't. The school board voted 3-2 to draft a policy allowing "passive distribution" of "religious and non-religious materials." The fear among some board members and the board's lawyer was that if the school allows the Gideons to distribute Bibles, they'll have to allow other groups to distribute non-Christian or even anti-Christian literature. Actually, no. The threshold isn't crossed when you allow one form of religious literature—it's when you allow one form of extra-curricular literature. If you let the Boy Scouts to distribute a promotional leaflet, you have to allow the Gideons to distribute Bibles. Admittedly, there is some legal debate on this, but the principle has been reiterated by courts, the Department of Education, and groups across the political spectrum.

Most of these fights seem to be a case of educators uneducated in the law. But other unnecessary fights seem driven by something else. Take a look at the fight over at Karns Elementary School in Knox County, Tennessee, which has been going for nearly a year. Fifth-grader Luke Whitson and his parents say Principal Cathy Summa prevented him from reading his Bible at recess. Summa says the incident never happened, and launched a $3 million countersuit for libel and slander. Tuesday, the parties finally agreed to a agreement stating that the school "has not and will not have a policy or practice of banning students from reading religious texts at recess," according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The suits continue, however, and the judge in the case is disappointed.

"Counsel, I'm just ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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