FFRF v. Rhea Board of Education: Bible Education in Public Schools Unconstitutional

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Decided: FFRF v. Rhea County Board of Education - U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar rules that a "Bible Education Ministry" conducted in the public schools of Rhea County, Tennessee, amounts to a form of Sunday School and is unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Edgar writes:

"The Rhea County courses are being taught to the youngest and most impressionable school children by college students who have no discernable educational training and no supervision by the school system.

The BEM lesson plans retained by Bryan College reveal that the children are being taught that the Bible conveys literal truth about God and Jesus Christ reflective of the Bryan College "Statement of Belief." In these classes, students are asked to memorize Bible verses, act out skits of Biblical stories, and sing songs such as "Jesus Loves Me," "My God Is So Great," "Pharaoh, Pharaoh," "Twelve Men Want to Spy on Canaan," "Shout to the Lord," "Change My Heart, Oh God," and "I'm In The Lord's Army."

In short, the public school elementary students are being taught what might well be a Sunday School class in many of the Christian churches in Rhea County. At oral argument, counsel for defendants conceded that the Bible was indeed being presented in the Rhea County Schools "as the truth." "
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