Freethought Today · April 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF expels Bible Man from Tenn. School

An evangelist known as "Bible Man" will no longer be permitted to lead religious classes at Coalmont Elementary School in Altamont, Tenn., after FFRF lodged a complaint with the Grundy County Department of Education.

The school district for decades had allowed Horace Turner to lead monthly assemblies during school hours. His assemblies have included "baby Jesus" displays, sermons proclaiming that "Jesus died on the cross for our sins," bible readings, discussions about the meaning of bible stories and distributions of religious literature.

"Allowing anyone access to public school students to proselytize, and including the events in the school's calendar, is illegal District endorsement of the speaker's religious message, in this case a Christian message," wrote Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert in a March 2 letter, noting that FFRF won a lawsuit against another Tennessee school that let an outside religious group provide religious instruction to students.

The fact that parents may have been allowed to excuse their children from the programs did not make a difference, explained Markert. "When children opt out, their absence is obvious, and the ostracism they suffer is precisely what the courts have sought to prevent."
FFRF recently received word that the district had ended Turner's unconstitutional programs.

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