Oral argument tomorrow over South Carolina bible class case

The Freedom From Religion Foundation will participate in the oral argument portion of its appeal over the Spartanburg County School District Seven (Spartanburg County, S.C.) policy granting academic credit and grades for religious released-time classes held at a church next door to Spartanburg High School.

Oral arguments will be presented on March 20 in Richmond, Va. The case is before the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Attorney George Daly will represent FFRF.

"We do not feel that this policy is constitutional under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zorach v. Clauson (1952), which allows schools 'to accommodate their schedules' to release students during the school day to receive outside religious instruction," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "It did not approve the granting of academic credit. This policy gives an advantage to religious students that is not available to students not engaging in religious instruction."

FFRF originally filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in 2009. FFRF filed an appeal in 2011.

FFRF sued with two district families with schoolchildren. It challenged the policy’s constitutionality, arguing that close cooperation between the district and religious educators had the primary effect of advancing religion. The school also excessively entangled church and state by granting a religious institution the power to give public school credits and grades.

"Our lawsuit charged the school district with developing and implementing its policy 'in concert' with bible instructors," noted FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

FFRF maintains that Spartanburg’s practices go far beyond the court’s ruling in Zorach. The machinery of the public schools is being used to promote religion, as occurred in McCollum v. Board of Education, and not merely accommodate religion. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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