February 2004 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A California attorney is seeking a ballot initiative that would require the state to issue Bibles to all public school students.

Matt McLaughlin, a Huntington Beach lawyer, told the Contra Costa Times that Bible study would enhance students' understanding of religious symbolism in literature. He needs to gather close to 600,000 signatures by May 24 for his Bible study initiative to be put before state voters in November.

The initiative would allow voters to decide if the state constitution should be amended to allow public schools to distribute King James Version Bibles for classes in elementary, middle and high schools. All students would get a Bible, unless their parents objected.

The Associated Press reported that the Bible study plan would cost state and local school districts about $200 million.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the Contra Costa Times that the initiative is "a bizarre idea, in addition to it being unconstitutional."