FFRF calls for bible-class moratorium in N.C. schools

The Freedom From Religion Foundation told the Rowan-Salisbury [N.C.] School System it must immediately drop unconstitutional elementary school-level bible classes. FFRF is awaiting response to an open records request to determine the extent of the violation.

In addition to weekly sessions of physical education and art classes, the school district’s youngest students attend a weekly bible class. FFRF received a report about one such session in which the teacher presented the bible and seven-day creation as literal fact.

Local churches fund the bible teachers through nonprofit groups set up specifically to promote bible classes. Under firm Supreme Court precedent, such outside funding does not relieve the school of its obligation to ensure secular education, FFRF noted.

Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter to the district Sept. 24 calling the classes “flagrantly unconstitutional,” pointing out that the Supreme Court had struck down similar classes in 1948 in a landmark case in which the facts “could hardly be more similar.”

“It is appalling that the district would take away from instructional time to indoctrinate children in Christian dogma,” Elliott said, calling on the district to put a moratorium on the classes involving “young, impressionable elementary school students.”

Elliott wrote that the district’s ill-advised decision to offer the classes calls into question the legitimacy of the bible classes currently being taught in the middle schools and high school.
FFRF Co-President Dan Barker noted that FFRF resoundingly won a federal court case before the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004 challenging similar weekly bible classes in Dayton, Tenn., area schools.

“It’s absolutely shocking,” Barker said, “that 66 years after the Supreme Court’s McCollum ruling, we would still see such a flagrant violation.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation