Missouri Public School Loses Gideon Bible Battle

A federal appeals court has upheld an injunction prohibiting a Missouri public school board from allowing distribution of Bibles to fifth-grade students during class time.

In late August, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the South Iron R-1 School District’s request to overturn the injunction.

In 2005, South Iron’s school board voted to continue allowing Gideon representatives to distribute Bibles, even though the superintendent and the district’s attorney urged the board to discontinue the practice on constitutional grounds.

Parents sued the school district in 2006, and subsequently a U.S. district court issued an injunction barring the Gideon distribution. In a brief opinion, the 8th Circuit upheld the injunction.

In its Doe v. South Iron R-1 School District decision, the court dismissed the school district’s arguments that the injunction was overly broad and infringed on the free speech rights of the Gideon representatives. The appeals court found the injunction permissible and agreed with the district court that the Bible giveaway raised grave church-state concerns.       

Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 8th Circuit arguing that the injunction should remain in place.