On Dec. 7, a man dressed in a black suit, who was just barely standing outside public school property, was handing out New Testament Bibles, published by the Gideons. My son, Michael, brought home one of these Bibles.
This was not the first time this has happened at my son’s school, Cabrillo Middle School, in Ventura, but I had thought the first incident, last year, would be the last. It was not.
The moral and ethical implications of an adult man standing outside a secular middle school and handing out new testaments is beyond toleration. The choice of subject, the Christian New Testament, is not acceptable, just as any other religious literature would be unacceptable. And beyond the obvious religious impropriety that this action shows, there is another level here: It would not matter if he were handing out free ice cream, it is just something that is fundamentally wrong outside a public school.
What is to stop other, more insidious people from exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech from standing outside a school and handing out whatever is on their agenda. These Gideons are setting a dangerous precedent. At some point, the interest and protection of the masses must overrule the rights of the individual, at least in this incident.
If this type of proselytizing continues, and I see an adult standing outside one of my children’s schools and propositioning them, I would immediately take appropriate and aggressive action to make sure that person did not come back — that year, or any year.
And yes, I do want to make a federal case out of this!
— James E. Ritchie, Ventura