Bibles in Hamilton County schools stir questions

photo A Bible sits on a student's desk in this file photo.

It all started with a permission slip.

The one Mitzi Yates found among the papers in her fifth-grader's backpack. If she signed it, it would allow him to bring home a copy of the Gideon New Testament from McConnell Elementary. Wary of religious coercion, she asked the school not to send the texts home, even if parents asked for it.

And now, national groups are weighing in on whether such an act is appropriate for a public school, and the Bible could become the next installment in our region's battle over the proper role of religion in the public square.

"I'm not anti-Christian," Yates said. "I almost wish we could have a real solution that wouldn't ban the Gideons or anyone else from visiting and sharing their books of faith.