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Atheist Bookcovers Denied by Texas School District

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  • The Watch
    The American Atheists AANEWS, has an article about Atheist s efforts to distribute textbook covers in Texas, with historical statements by Atheists and US
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 17 8:16 PM
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      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
      public schools.
      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
      book covers:

      Loch Sloy!
      Tuan Today
      "Tuan MacCarrill/MacParthalon, forever the Celtic story."
      Lowell McFarland <lowell@...>
      American Atheist News (AANEWS)

      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,
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