Group allowed to distribute free Bibles at some Orange County schools



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Students at some Orange County high schools saw something different Wednesday: a table stacked with Bibles in the lunchroom.

Volunteers with World Changers of Florida placed Bibles at 11 high schools in the lunchroom.

School district officials said all volunteers passed background checks and could not talk to students or encourage them to take a Bible. They weren't even allowed to stand at the tables, and there was simply a sign that read, "Free Bibles."

"The students had an opportunity if they choose to pick up a Bible. There was a disclaimer. If you want them you can (take one)," said Evans High School Principal Jenny Gibson-Linkh.

The Bibles were placed in the following high schools: Evans, Boone, Colonial, Jones, Wekiva, Apopka, Edgewater, Timber Creek, CypressCreek, University and Winter Park.

Within hours, the 1,700 bibles were all gone.

Each student who talked with WFTV said they liked the idea, too.

"(You can) learn a different part of society and learn different cultures, which bases on religion," said student Javier Rivera.

A memo from Orange County Public Schools' attorney explained that the district is allowing the distribution to avoid a lawsuit.

World Changers sued the Collier County School Board for not allowing the Bibles to be given out three years ago.

A United States district court judge ruled that the Bible distribution must be allowed, as long as it is done passively.

The attorney for Orange County Public Schools said it is also legally obligated to allow other groups to distribute materials.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted the district to apply this week.

The bible distribution was headed up by a 76-year-old Naples man who leads World Changers of Florida.

That man told WFTV he chose Orange County because when he grew up in the area during the 1940s, students memorized parts of the Bible in school.