A pagan mother’s challenge to the distribution of donated Bibles at a local school has prompted the Buncombe County Board of Education to reevaluate its policies regarding religious texts.
Ginger Strivelli, who practices Witchcraft, a form of Paganism, said she was upset when her 12-year-old son [who did not wish to be photographed for this article] came home from North Windy Ridge intermediate school with a Bible.
The Gideons International had delivered several boxes of the sacred books to the school office. The staff allowed interested students to stop by and pick them up.
“Schools should not be giving out one religion’s materials and not others,” Strivelli said.
According to Strivelli, the principal assured her the school would make available religious texts donated by any group. But when Strivelli showed up at the school with pagan spell books, she was turned away.
“Buncombe County School officials are currently reviewing relevant policies and practices with school board attorneys,” the district announced in a written statement. “During this review period, no school in the system will be accepting donations of materials that could be viewed as advocating a particular religion or belief.”
The school board is expected to address the issue at its next meeting Feb. 2. According to legal experts, the First Amendment gives public schools two clear choices when it comes to the distribution of religious texts.
“You can either open your public school up to all religious material, or you can say no religious material,” Michael Broyde, a professor and senior fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion said. “You can’t say, ‘You can distribute religious material, but only from the good mainstream faiths.’”