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Bibles found in Hopewell were donated, not paid for by schools

HOPEWELL, Va. -- Concerned viewers reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers after discovering small Bibles inside two Hopewell City Schools.

Their concerns centered around whether the Bibles were purchased with school funds and if they violated the separation of church and state.

That concern was shot down by the finance director for Hopewell City Schools, who said "we have never purchased bibles."

The bibles were donated by Gideons International, whose mission is to distribute small Bibles and small New Testaments around the world.

The organizations mission includes providing bibles to students in grades five and up.

Hopewell City Schools Superintendent Melody Hackney released a statement to CBS 6 concerning the bibles.

"Hopewell City Schools has an open access distribution practice. Unless the information is inappropriate, would cause a disruption, or could interfere with existing school sponsored activities, materials are approved."

She went on the say in this particular case, the Gideon request for formal Bible distribution was not approved.

"However, like other flyers and information, they were approved to be placed in the guidance offices of the middle and high schools," she said.

Mike Dawson, who has three children in Hopewell Schools, said he doesn't think religious materials should be forced on anyone.

"If they're available and it's your choice to pick it up and read it, that's on you. I don't think it should be banned," he added.

"I think they should be available to anyone who wants to read them. I would feel like we're doing a disservice if they weren't available," said Randy Sealey, whose daughter graduated a few days ago. "I don't have a problem if the Koran is in school for those people who want to worship that way."

The ACLU of Viriginia issued this statement to CBS 6 concerning the Bibles:

"The distribution of Gideon Bibles in public schools clearly violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. This practice particularly concerns us because impressionable students may feel coerced and pressured into supporting a particular religion."

CBS 6 News is working for you. Click here to email a tip to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers. Be sure to leave us your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672.