Findlay struggles with that whole separation of church and state thing

There's no need for free Bible day in Findlay, where everyone owns at least six.
There's no need for free Bible day in Findlay, where everyone owns at least six.

The desolate plains of western Ohio can play tricks on your mind — like making you think you're from Kansas or something. Which may explain the Findlay public schools' annual free Bible day.

Fifth-graders were dismissed early from class last week in order to walk with their teachers to a spot about three blocks away from school. That's where professional Christians were handing out free Bibles to every kid.

Apparently, there were no history teachers on hand; otherwise someone might have noted that said adventure runs afoul of that quaint little artifact known as the Constitution.

But since the government has largely given up on enforcing the separation of church and state, the ACLU kindly stepped in. It's threatened to sue the district if it doesn't suspend Bible Day, which has been going on for years.

"We feel that religion is such a private personal opinion," says spokesman Mike Brickner. "It should be up to the students and parents to decide how much exposure to religion they want."

The ACLU is quick to point out that there's nothing wrong with people handing out Bibles on the street — unless they're also waving those aborted-fetus placards, which can really ruin your appetite if you're on your way to Burger King.

"If anyone had tried to prevent them from doing so, we'd probably be defending them," Brickner says. It's just the "field-trip thing" that rubs them the wrong way.

"We heard that a Muslim parent had complained because her daughter felt pressured to take a Bible," says Brickner. "That creates a problem."

But to Findlay residents, the whole thing is rather ridiculous. "Findlay is super Christian to begin with," says one recent high-school graduate. "Everyone in the town already owns a Bible — or six. In fact, I have more Bibles than I do voice messages," she adds, looking crossly at her cell phone. "Want one?"

Less Than Extra!
Just when The Plain Dealer was starting a nice roll — hammering a series of wicked liners against corruption in county and city government — it appears bad news has once again struck Cleveland's largest news organization.

According to multiple staffers, the paper will soon be cutting anywhere from 40 to 50 pages per week, mostly from its Arts & Life section. For uncultured boobs like Punch, this isn't of great concern. (Yes, we know that yellow is in this season. And, yes, we also know we'll get our ass kicked if we walk around dressed like a dandelion.) But this doesn't portend well for The PD or Cleveland.

"Whether you're serving a newspaper or a steak," says education reporter Scott Stephens, "you don't want it to be flimsy."

Newspapers, to put it mildly, have been taking a Philly cop beating in recent times. Some of the nation's largest have seen their values halved in the last year. And though The PD has suffered weight loss on par with Larry the Cable Guy, it's managed to do better than most. But in America's Poorest City , even hanging tight may be too much to ask.

Editor Susan Goldberg, who's reinstalled some junkyard dog in the paper, issued something of a non-denial denial. "If we did have something to talk about," she says, "I'd like to talk about it with my staff first."

Most worried are younger staffers. They've been the key to The PD's rekindled aggressiveness. But with an initial round of staff buyouts already completed, they fear they'll be first out the door the next time around. And they may take the paper's newfound vigor with them.

We're @#$%&#!
Yet another exhaustive study has confirmed what even your average Ohio ninth-grader already knows: We're f%$#ed!

The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) released a report last week ranking the 50 states in terms of economic health. Ohio was the third worst. Hey, at least we beat the Congo!

CAF, a "progressive think tank," compared today's jobless rates, foreclosure filings, etc., with the same numbers from 2001, the year that goofy trust-funder took office. (This just in: Progressives don't like W.) Ohio earned the bronze medal, thanks to the good ship S.S. Foreclosure and the bankruptcy filings left in its wake.

We've also seen the highest growth in in-state tuition costs, which means fewer kids can go to college, which means we're likely f$%#ed for some time, unless that whole "change we can believe in" thing actually works.

The only good to come out of the report: We don't suck the most. That honor goes to Michigan.