Satanic coloring books prompts Orlando district to ban Bibles on Religious Freedom Day

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

ORLANDO, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- Following the request of a Satanic Temple to distribute materials Jan. 16 in honor of Religious Freedom Day, Central Florida's Orange County School District will redraft the rules for the distribution of religious and political materials on school property.

The decision to review the existing policy and a potential new policy at the upcoming January 28 school board meeting occurred after materials from the Satanic Temple, which included a coloring book of satanic symbols and rituals, incited a host of complaints from parents, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

The parents' outrage led officials to deny all requests for distribution of religious and anti-religious materials as of November 2014.

For the past three years, OCSD officials allowed the Christian groups World Changers of Florida and the Florida Family Policy Council to set up tables of Bibles and provide them to interested students, CNSNews reported. Distribution of Bibles at schools has been a longstanding tradition with organizations such as Gideons International.

Last year the school board also allowed the Freedom From Religion Foundation to distribute various books and pamphlets after the Wisconsin-based group sued the district.

Some of the literature explained atheism while other items, like the brochure "An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible," aimed at discrediting the Bible's message.

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This year, the FFRF did not request to hand out the information, but all parties that did were prohibited from doing so until school officials create a new policy that avoids these problems from occurring again, "Nothing's going to be going on in this district this month," Kathy Marsh, communications director for OCPS told CNSNews.

January 2014, John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council, said in a news release volunteers from his organization and from area churches would place Bibles on a table with a sign where students at high school campuses in Orange and Collier counties could retrieve them if they were interested. 

At that time, Stemberger called it a "great opportunity for students who may never be exposed to Christianity to own and read a book that is not only the best selilng book of all times but is the most important piece of literature in the development of western civilization."

After the recent decision by Orange County officials, Stemberger said  he believe the school board's decision is "unfortunate," according to the CNSNews report, but that FFPC will remain in discussions concerning future policies.

""This is precisely what the Freedom From Religion people want," Stemberger said. "They want to get rid of religion, and that's their strategy. and everybody's played into the strategy. That's unfortunate."

Marsh also confirmed OCSD, one of the largest school systems in the United States, is currently working with an attorney to draft the new policy. More than 180,000 students are endrolled in the district's schools.