|Published:||Aug 25, 2010 4:22 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Aug 24, 2010 8:56 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The fight to have Bibles in Collier County public schools went in to the federal courts, as one SW Florida organization says the school board is trying to take away their constitutional rights.
A federal judge, Tuesday, ordered the two sides into mediation to settle their dispute.
The faith-based company "World Changers" had distributed bibles in Collier County schools on National Religious Freedom day (January 16) in 2006 and 2008.
When the company's owner, Jerry Rutherford, asked to do it in 2010, the school board rejected him - leading to the suit.
The school board's reasoning is that they want to keep the constitutional model of separation of church and state in tact.
"The school board has to be fair to everybody while allowing them to engage in free speech activities and that's the concern here," said James Fox, attorney for the Collier County school board.
Rutherford says the districts decision takes away his and the students' constitutional rights.
In years past Rutherford, would leave the Bibles on a cafeteria table for students to pick up voluntarily.
"I don't think there would have been any problem from the very beginning if they had watched what we were doing and saw how the event went off," said Rutherford.
The judge has given the two sides 30 days to resolve their issue with a professional mediator.
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