Earlier this month, we shared what had happened in the Bartlett, Tennessee, school district:
The folks who run the school district in Bartlett, Tennessee have shut down a grade school Bible Club.
Since last fall, first and second graders at Altruria Elementary School have gathered before the school day to read Bible stories under the watchful eyes of teachers.
But all that changed when the school district capitulated to a bunch of militant atheists and agnostics and abruptly shut down the Bible club.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation believes the Bible club is a violation of the Establishment Clause and they fired off a threatening letter to the school district.
“This club, which functions as a Bible class, is unconstitutional because public schools may not provide religious instruction,” wrote FFRF attorney Rebecca Markert.
Since that posting, Fox News’ Todd Starnes got involved and obtained the letter written by Markert, which read in part:
“The Establishment Clause prohibits religious clubs, because elementary students are too young to truly run a club entirely on their own initiative with no input from school staff or outside adults, and school employees may not organize a religious club for students.”
Further investigation into the matter led to the ‘State/Church FAQ’ written by Freedom From Religion Foundation, which basically states that elementary school kids are incapable of organizing a club on their own, therefore, any such club would normally be led by a member of the school staff, so any and all religious clubs for elementary school students are illegal.
I beg to differ with the FFRF, but some elementary school kids are perfectly able to organize a club. Sometimes they may turn to parents or adults for help, but they are more than capable to get a club started. I have a niece who while in elementary school, launched her own business and designed her own silk-screened t-shirt. On her own, she went to produce vendors to get permission to pick and buy fruit to sell at a farmer’s market. She donated much of her proceeds to teachers, to help them pay for all the supplies they buy on their own. She also decided to sponsor a child in another country and earned the money to do it, total on her own.
Another problem with the FFRF statement is that not all adult sponsors or club organizers are school personnel. They can be a parent or pastor. I know of one such Bible club that was started in an elementary school with the help, sponsorship and leadership of a high school student.
The biggest problem is that courts have ruled in the past that schools cannot discriminate against religious clubs. Brad Dacus with the Pacific Justice Institute reviewed the case at Altruria Elementary School and says the Bible club did not violate the Constitution. Dacus stated:
“There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional or illegal about Bible clubs – before-school hours (or) after-school hours. The courts have already addressed this issue in the past. This is just saber-rattling and intimidation.”
Nate Kellum with the Center for Religious Expression also reviews the case at Altruria Elementary School. Referring to the alleged Establishment Claus:
“Requires government neutrality toward religion, not hostility.”
Parents of the students who attended the club have been notified of the legality of the Bible club by the Center for Religious Expression. Additionally, Kellum has written a letter to the Bartlett School District, explaining what the law and courts really say.
Atheist organizations will continue to ignore court rulings and the constitutional rights of schools and students. They will continue to bully schools into giving into their demands and violating the constitutional rights of students. The reason schools cave in is that they fear huge legal costs in fighting the atheist groups, so they trample on students’ rights.
If anything like this happens to your kids or in your school, don’t just sit back and complain, but do something to help stand up against bullying atheists. Contact one of the many legal groups about the matter. Contact the media and make sure to tell them that courts have ruled that Bible clubs are legal. Help stop atheist bullying because that’s all it is. They often do not have a legal leg to stand on.