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Grove residents urge school officials to rethink policy on Gideons International's Scriptures

In Grove, a crowd of about 100 people showed their support for allowing the Gideons International organization to give out New Testaments to fifth-grade students.
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL Modified: October 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012

School officials were urged at a Tuesday school board meeting to rescind a new policy prohibiting the distribution of Scriptures to fifth-graders.

Gideons International has given the pocket-size New Testament, which also includes the Psalms and Proverbs, to Grove students for decades.

About 100 people turned out for the meeting in support of allowing the group to continue that tradition.

The Rev. Tony Wisdom and lawyer Robert Plunk urged the five-member school board to rethink the ban, which was approved this year after complaints and threats of a lawsuit from parents.

Gideons International was founded in 1899 and distributes Bibles in 190 countries, according to the group's website.

Plunk told the board that the Rotary Club gives dictionaries to third-graders, and that the Scriptures can be offered as long as it is done in the same manner.

The board did not address the policy during the meeting and took no action.

Wisdom, who spoke to thunderous applause, said students should be given access to “the greatest book ever written.”

The minority should not override the majority, he said, adding that other religions also should have the right to give out materials.

Students are not forced to take the New Testaments or other religious literature, Wisdom said.

School board President Jim Rutter said the district had received several complaints in the past when the Scriptures were given out.

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