WV School District Sued Over Bible Classes

Jun 2014
61,321
35,568
Cleveland, Ohio
#1
A kindergartner is battling county officials in federal court over Bible classes in public school.

In a federal lawsuit filed in January, Jane Doe, a pseudonymous plaintiff who is the mother of Mercer County, W.Va., kindergartner Jamie Doe, challenged the county’s “Bible in the Schools” program, saying it was unconstitutional.

“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The classes, held for 30 minutes weekly in elementary schools and 45 minutes weekly in middle schools, include “scripted interpretations” of Bible stories that advance “creationism” and “inculcate the biblical account of Jesus’ death and resurrection” with “no legitimate secular purpose,” the suit said.

One lesson, described in the suit, asked students to “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.”

“So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” the lesson said, as the suit explained. “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

[Baptisms on the football field: Church-and-state separation advocates see a troubling trend in public schools]

Though Jamie Doe is not old enough for the classes, the child will be next year in first grade — and may be “ostracized” for opting out of the Bible classes, according to the complaint.

“Forcing Jane Doe to choose between putting her child in a bible study class or subjecting her child to the risk of ostracism by opting out of the program violates the rights of conscience of Jane and Jamie Doe and therefore their First Amendment rights,” the suit said.

Last week, in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Mercer County Public Schools said the Does’ complaint has no merit because Jamie Doe is still in kindergarten.

One mother in Mercer County said her child was indeed bullied for not attending the Bible classes. In fact, the bullying got so bad that Elizabeth Deal took her daughter out of the county school system, she said.

“I think this is definitely an outright gray area, if not outright illegal,” Deal said.

The school district’s motion also pointed out that the classes, which are paid for by a nonprofit organization, receive no public funding.

“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective,” said Hiram S. Sasser, a lawyer representing Mercer County Public Schools who works for the First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on religious freedom. “To make sure that students obviously have the social currency to interpret Western literature.”

The Does are represented by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the nonprofit’s president, said that her organization sees many instances of public schools illegally introducing religious instruction — and that the separation of church and state in schools may get much murkier under President Trump, who wants to funnel more public education money toward vouchers that can be used at religious schools.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/03/22/this-west-virginia-school-district-has-weekly-bible-classes-a-kindergartner-is-suing/?utm_term=.2892848a7dcf

This has been unconstitutional since at least 1948.

This utilization of the State's tax supported public school system and its machinery for compulsory public school attendance to enable sectarian groups to give religious instruction to public school pupils in public school buildings violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.
https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/333/203/case.html

It's frustrating that 70 years later or so, school boards STILL can't master this rule of law.

Your thoughts?
 
Likes: 4 people

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
75,813
66,456
So. Md.
#2
They need to cease and desist. I don't have a problem with teaching comparative religion or teaching about religious texts as literature. But that's not what these classes are doing.
 
Likes: 7 people
Jun 2014
61,321
35,568
Cleveland, Ohio
#3
They need to cease and desist. I don't have a problem with teaching comparative religion or teaching about religious texts as literature. But that's not what these classes are doing.
I would certainly object to Comparative Religion classes for k-6 students. They're too young to master the material, and their time in school is being squandered on this bullshit.
 
Likes: 5 people
Nov 2014
33,302
8,636
TN
#4
Actually no.. Bible Classes are Constitutional a 1963 ruling by the USSC made it constitutional School Dist. of Abington Tp. v. Schempp
374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Once again Liberal Christianphobes over react.
 
Apr 2014
1,911
1,306
The liberal commie infested, queer loving north ea
#5
Actually no.. Bible Classes are Constitutional a 1963 ruling by the USSC made it constitutional School Dist. of Abington Tp. v. Schempp
374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Once again Liberal Christianphobes over react.
Are you freakin' serious. You got that exactly 100% wrong. Maybe that's why you omitted a link.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court decided 8–1 in favor of the respondent, Edward Schempp, and declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abington_School_District_v._Schempp
And no, no body is Christianphobic . It is a matter of freedom of religion and from religion. It is a matter of the first amendment applying equally to all religions. I am sick of the intrusions of the religious right of late, being emboldened in the era of Trump.

Precedents for case[edit]

The Court explicitly upheld Engel v. Vitale, in which the Court ruled that the sanctioning of a prayer by the school amounted to a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The Abington court held that in organizing a reading of the Bible, the school was conducting "a religious exercise," and "that cannot be done without violating the 'neutrality' required of the State by the balance of power between individual, church and state that has been struck by the First Amendment" (374 U.S. 203 (1963)). Over the previous two decades, the Supreme Court, by incorporating specific rights into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, had steadily increased the extent to which rights contained in United States Bill of Rights were applied against the states.[5] Abington was a continuation of this trend with regard to the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment, and specifically built upon Supreme Court precedents in Cantwell v. Connecticut (310 U.S. 296 (1940)), Everson v. Board of Education (330 U.S. 1 (1947)), and McCollum v. Board of Education (333 U.S. 203 (1948)). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abington_School_District_v._Schempp
 
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Likes: 8 people
Nov 2014
33,302
8,636
TN
#6
Are you freakin' serious. You got that exactly 100% wrong. Maybe that's why you omitted a link.



And no, no body is Christianphobic . It is a matter of freedom of religion and from religion. It is a matter of the first amendment applying equally to all religions. I am sick of the intrusions of the religious right of late, being emboldened in the era of Trump.
INCORRECT..


Teaching the Bible is constitutional .. sorry.. read the ruling. Prayer and teaching the bible as a historical document. ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.



BUT THEN AGAIN you were too lazy to read the ruling.
 
Jan 2016
55,946
52,492
Colorado
#7
INCORRECT..


Teaching the Bible is constitutional .. sorry.. read the ruling. Prayer and teaching the bible as a historical document. ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

BUT THEN AGAIN you were too lazy to read the ruling.
They are NOT 'teaching the bible as a historical document', silly.

One lesson, described in the suit, asked students to “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.”
 
Likes: 6 people

Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
51,384
38,016
Pennsylvania, USA
#8
Actually no.. Bible Classes are Constitutional a 1963 ruling by the USSC made it constitutional School Dist. of Abington Tp. v. Schempp
374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Once again Liberal Christianphobes over react.
ProgressivePatriot is correct. You cited a relevant case, but you got the verdict backwards. The court ruled 8-1 that school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States was unconstitutional.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abington_School_District_v._Schempp
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
75,768
44,646
Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
#9
The purpose of this Bible class is to teach religion, not "comparative religion." It is why I oppose public educational institutions from teaching religion at all below the college level ... the clear purpose in all cases is to teach one particular religion, with any excuse possible, even using peer pressure to get others to conform.

"When the power, prestige and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain." Engel V. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 431 (1962).

They are teaching one religion's viewpoint on the Bible, and no other religion. It violates the Lemon test and the Endorsement test.
 
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Djinn

Council Hall
Dec 2007
51,384
38,016
Pennsylvania, USA
#10
The purpose of this Bible class is to teach religion, not "comparative religion." It is why I oppose public educational institutions from teaching religion at all below the college level ... the clear purpose in all cases is to teach one particular religion, with any excuse possible, even using peer pressure to get others to conform. ...
Many schools teach religion in a comparative context. My kids' middle school's social studies class spent a month or two covering world religions, dedicating equal time to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Equal time was given to each of these, and there was no hint on preferential treatment for any of them.

In this context, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the curriculum.
 
Likes: 7 people