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Gideons Told Not to Distribute

May 22, 2002

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WAYLAND, Mich. (AP) _ A school superintendent has told Gideons International to stop its annual practice of handing out Bibles to fifth-graders.

Two members of the Gideons, the Nashville, Tenn.-based group that places Bibles in hotel rooms, had planned to distribute them to students at the Pine Street School, as they had done each spring since around 1990.

But after a parent complained to the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU wrote a letter to the district, the Gideons were notified by Wayland Union Schools Superintendent Thomas Tarnutzer that the distribution was off.

The ACLU said the practice violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Tarnutzer said the school board supported his decision.

``I can’t understand the objection when parents approve it,″ said the Gideons’ Dale Armintrout, who taught at Wayland Union High before retiring in 1985.

He said he was unsure if the group would pursue another way to get the Bibles to students.

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