Atheist Bookcovers Denied by Texas School District
- The American Atheists AANEWS, has an article about Atheist's efforts to
distribute textbook covers in Texas, with historical statements by Atheists
and US presidents, rebuffed by the same school board that distributed Ten
Commandments book covers.
Excerpts are included.
Links at the bottom lead to further information.
NOTE: Textbook covers displaying the Ten Commandments are apparently paid
for and promoted by evangelical groups working to bring their religion into
American Atheists, partly to test whether the endorsement of the
religious book covers was indeed, non-sectarian, and to take this
opportunity to promote Atheist values, created Atheist related but
historical, book covers and submitted them for distribution - and were
As some of the best thinkers in classical times were Pagan, it might be
acceptable history to include some of the statements of the most important
Pagan thinkers, to be distributed as book covers in public schools alongside
the Ten Commandments book covers.
People For the American Way (PFAW) commentary on the Ten Commandments
"Tuan MacCarrill/MacParthalon, forever the Celtic story."
Lowell McFarland <lowell@...>
American Atheist News (AANEWS)
ATHEIST PLEA FOR "EQUAL ACCESS" OVER BOOK COVERS DENIED BY TEXAS SCHOOL
COMMANDMENTS DISTRIBUTION CONTINUES
The state of Texas has seen battles over prayer in classrooms, vouchers,
invocations at graduation ceremonies and football games, and teaching
creationism in the public schools.
Now, a new fight -- and possibly even a legal showdown -- is shaping up
over book covers.
In the Grand Prairie School District outside of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Karen
Wiegman has been working hard to distribute 20,000 book jackets which
feature pictures of sports stars and the Declaration of Independence and a
copy of the Ten Commandments.
Texas American Atheists State Director Hogan, along with Metroplex
Atheist activist Shelly Hattan, decided to test the "equal access" which
school authorities said that they would give to any group seeking to
distribute their covers.
Hattan and other members designed and printed an attractive jacket,
black ink on white paper, which features quotes about Atheism from American
Atheists founder Madalyn O'Hair -- a longtime Texas resident -- and several
U.S. Presidents and other prominent historical figures such as Tom Paine,
Ben Franklin and Ethan Allen.
The district had two alternatives -- either prohibit distribution of
Wiegman's Ten Commandments book covers on school property, or establish fair
and impartial rules which allowed all qualified groups and viewpoints to be
On August 3, American Atheists Texas State Director Dick Hogan contacted
Dr. David Barbosa, the Superintendent of the Grand Prairie School District,
stating: "The American Atheists, Inc. is going to make available atheist
book covers to be distributed and made accessible to the students...
"It is our intent to participate in the free speech efforts of other
self interest groups that the Grand Prairie School Board has sanctioned.
These book covers will be available for any student wishing to express a
personal statement of secular thought on or after August 14, 2000..."
A follow up letter dated August 16 acknowledged receipt of school
guidelines, and stated again: "Our intent is to exercise the same right of
distribution the Grand Prairie School District does allow the book covers
produced by the Family Research Council and (which) is currently being made
available to GPISD students..."
FRC, a Washington, D.C. "family values" group headed by former GOP
presidential nomination hopeful Gary Bauer, has distributed over 600,000
Commandments book covers as part of its nationwide "Hang Ten" campaign which
advocates display of the Decalogue, often on government property and
[Texas] School district officials have apparently nixed the Atheist plan
to distribute alternative book covers, said Metroplex spokesperson Shelly
Hattan earlier today.
"We wanted to test the district's policy, and see how consistent it
really is regarding equal access and free expression for all points of
view," Hattan said. "Ms. Wiegman's campaign to distribute the Ten
Commandments book covers threatens to turn the schools into religious battle
zones. But by denying us [Atheist's] the right to distribute our book
covers, it simply demonstrates that the school district has a pretty narrow
and biased view of free speech."
Texas is not the only state plagued by controversy over religion-themed
book covers and efforts to promote faith in public schools.
On Wednesday, Chicago public school officials announced that they would
permitting distribution of Ten Commandments book jackets to students, with
the proviso that groups involved in the effort stay off of school property
and give their materials only to students who actively solicit them.
"I am enthusiastically supportive," gushed Chicago Public Schools CEO
Paul Vallas in an interview with Associated Press. "I view the Ten
Commandments as history's value statements. They're certainly universally
The Total Living Network covers feature astronomical images.
"Against that backdrop," noted Tribune reporter Steve Kloehn, "a
simplified translation of the 10 Commandments -- vetted [thoroughly
examined] by 28 local clergy ... covers one side. The other side carries
quotes from figures as diverse as Michael Jordan, Mark Twain, Oprah Winfrey
and Abraham Lincoln under the heading 'Good Thinking.'"
For further information:
http://www.atheists.org/tx/ (Office of the AA Texas State Director)
("Hang 'em all -- Completely!," by Frank Zindler)
("Rhenquist and the Ten Taboos")
("Which Ten Commandments," by Positive Atheism editor Cliff Walker)
("Judge bars ten commandments monument..." 7/30/00)
("HANG TEN controversies continue..." 5/20/00)
AANEWS is a free service from American Atheists, a nationwide movement
founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the
total, absolute separation of government and religion.
You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that
appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists.
Please do not post complete editions of this newsletter indiscriminately
to newsgroups, boards or other outlets.
Edited by Conrad Goeringer, <cg@...>
Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait,