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The following are exclusively my opinions and not those of any organization. In response to the letters of Alec Berfield on Dec. 18, 2017, and Dulce Havill on Jan. 3, 2018, I feel I must comment since I kind of know the feller responsible for the Gideon New Testament distribution at Bandon High School on Dec. 5, 2018.

I'm sorry you feel that handing out New Testaments to high school and junior high kids is "reprehensible" and "offensive". The Gideons do not do this "instead of talking to adults about religion," but in addition to it. Doesn't education include people's personal beliefs? Some of the children who approach the Gideon volunteers do not even know what the New Testament is! We wish them to have that knowledge, if they so desire.

The Gideons (no relation to Good News Clubs) are a Christian organization that has been around for over 100 years. Their most well known activity is the placement of Bibles in motel and hotel rooms, but they also place Bibles and New Testaments in hospitals and medical facilities for those in need, as well as distribute New Testaments at junior high and high schools, and at county fairs. These Bibles/New Testaments are free of charge, purchased by the Gideons, and are only given to those who want them.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees citizens the free right to express their religious views. The United States Supreme Court, in a long line of cases including Tinker vs, Des Moines School District, and many subsequent decisions, has held that "the public sidewalk adjacent to school grounds may not be declared off limits for expressive activity by members of the public."

I don't see anything "creepy" or "sinister" about handing out New Testaments, unless this country has changed its ideals from what the founding fathers had envisioned. Something about one nation under God. If there is any sinister-ness, I suspect it is contained within an effort to stop the spread of God's word. And we all know who would like to see that accomplished.

Barry Brook

Coos Bay

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