According to the Bakersfield Californian’s Jorge Barrientos, “During six recent school days, students at Liberty, Shafter and Bakersfield high schools gave out hundreds of Bibles to their peers on campus.” How was this feat accomplished? Barrientos says, “Very carefully.”
Obviously, there are strict rules on religious activities in schools. The students were able to carry out their activities because they implemented student led rallies outside class times and were not allowed to approach their peers. They did accept all comers to their activities, but did not actively go out and solicit them throughout campus. They gave away more than 200 bibles, per the Californian, and also did some “soul saving” rituals.
Public perception of the events seems mostly positive. This is not surprising, since the groups carrying out the events were Christian in nature. It is less likely that public opinion would have been so enthusiastic if they had been Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, or Pagan. The story in the Californian would likely have been much different if Wiccan groups were holding such events in high schools throughout the county. Of course, most religions don’t proselytize in the manner of evangelical Christianity, but I would still love to have read such a story.
There is no real problem with such events taking place, as long as they are available for any religious group who wishes to take advantage of them. I would like to see Religious Studies student groups in every high school in Kern County. Perhaps RS clubs at the college and university levels could become active in advocating for similar groups in the high schools. This could easily work much like LGBT student clubs have slowly risen in the high schools as a result of encouragement from college level clubs.
What our high schoolers need is more education about the diversity of religions practiced in the county, not reinforcement of a one-creed fits all mentality.