Cumberland County Schools, ACLU-TN agree on Bible ban

Cumberland County Schools, ACLU-TN agree on Bible distribution ban


CROSSVILLE (WATE) - The Cumberland County School Board and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee approved an agreement prohibiting non-student groups from distributing Bibles and other written religious material on school grounds during school hours.

The settlement agreement was approved at Thursday night's school board meeting.

Representatives of ACLU-TN say they sent a letter in April 2013 to the school board on behalf of an anonymous parent of a fifth grader at Frank P. Brown Elementary School.

The parent contacted ACLU-TN saying his child reported feeling pressured to take a Bible during a classroom presentation.

ACLU-TN says two members of Gideons International were allowed into a classroom at the school to distribute Bibles to fifth grade students. The teacher introduced the Gideons and proceeded to call the students, row by tow, to the front of class to retrieve a Bible.

Though it was not mandatory, the student reported being worried his classmates and teacher would ostracize him for not taking a Bible.

ACLU-TN says the distribution of religious texts to a public elementary school class is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The agreement between the school system and ACLU-TN states that all Cumberland County schools will refrain from any such practices on school grounds during school hours.

The school board also agreed to conduct training with school leadership to avoid future Establishment Clause violations.

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