Back in September, we told you about the Satanic Temple's plan to hand out pamphlets to school kids in Florida titled The Satanic Children's Big Book of Activities in response to a recent Orange County School Board decision that allows for the distribution of religious materials in public schools.
Now comes news that atheist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) will also be handing out its own pamphlets, although with a tad more edge to them.
Meanwhile, the School Board says the organization has neither asked for nor gotten permission to hand out the material, though that may be a misrepresentation of the facts.
The pamphlet the FFRF is planning to distribute is titled An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible. The pamphlet's cover depicts a menacing cartoon Bible angrily reaching out to a woman running away.
According to Raw Story, inside the pamphlet are passages from the Bible that mention sex, nudity, and circumcision, which the FFRF says is obscene.
In an interview with CNS News, an attorney for the group explained the FFRF's motives.
"I think if you look at the content of that brochure and what is actually in the Bible and some of the things that are in the Bible in terms of sex and compare that to the cover, the cover is pretty tame compared to anything that is in the Bible," said attorney Andrew Seidel. "I think the bottom line is, you can't consider any of our materials obscene when compared to the Bible."
The FFRF also says it plans to hand out other previously banned pamphlets showing what the Bible says about abortion, as well as copies of a book titled Jesus Is Dead. One of the pamphlets calls God "arrogant, sexist, and cruel."
The entire episode of handing out pamphlets to Orange County school kids began before the school year began when the School Board said they would allow an evangelical Christian group to hand out Bibles to students while at the same time censoring atheist materials.
Last year, one atheist group known as the Central Florida Free Thought Community intended to hand out materials that included titles like "Jesus Is dead" and "Why I am Not a Muslim." Those materials weren't allowed to be distributed by the School Board because officials thought it would cause a disruption.
The atheist group then sued the School Board. But on September 4, a judge threw out the lawsuit after the board relented and said the group was allowed to hand out its material.
The Satanic Temple stepped a few weeks after that ruling in with its plan to hand out an activity and coloring book to the kids to teach them "the rights and freedoms they're allowed under that law."
In response to all this, Katherine Marsh, communications director for Orange County Public Schools, told Raw Story that the group had not asked for or gotten permission to hand out its materials.
"No, no, no, that's a long way away," Marsh says. "[The media] have perpetuated this terrible rumor that Satanists are coming in." She added, "It is incorrect to say that at this time this organization has asked for and received clearance to hand out this pamphlet in Orange County Public Schools."
In response to that, Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Grieves shared an email with New Times the group sent to Raw Story to set the record straight.
"Since this whole thing has started, the school board has pretended to know nothing about us every step of the way," Grieves says. "We have not 'received clearance,' but we have certainly submitted."
Grieves points to a recent School Board meeting where the board admits to having received the materials and that the legal council confirms that they are consistent with the standards set for all religious groups.
"[It] leaves them with no reason, outside of viewpoint of discrimination, to deny their passive distribution at the next open forum," Grieves says.
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