The American Civil Liberties Union is claiming victory in the case of a young boy who was reportedly banned from reading his Bible during an after school program in Tennessee. And in the wake of the resolution, the child’s mother has said she’s proud that her son defended his religious rights.
As TheBlaze previously reported, the civil rights group recently wrote a letter to Tennessee’s Cannon County REACH after-school program, defending the child and attempting to clarify First Amendment protections.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, REACH, a publicly funded organization, subsequently educated staff members on students’ constitutional rights in public schools and circulated the letter with its staff.
“We are pleased that the REACH program has trained their staff on their obligation under the law to safeguard their students’ religious liberties without imposing religion on them,” Thomas H. Castelli, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee legal director, said in a statement. “We will continue monitoring the program to ensure that students’ religious freedom is protected.”
The boy’s mother, Lisa Koepfgen, also spoke out in the same statement, noting that she is proud of her child for defending his right to read the Bible. She also said she was happy that REACH decided to educate its staff on rights afforded by the First Amendment.
“I am so proud of my son for standing up for his right to read the Bible during free reading time at his after-school program, despite multiple staff members wrongly telling us it was against the law,” Koepfgen said. “Clearly the REACH program also realized that they needed to retrain their staff on the Constitution’s protection of students’ religious freedom.”
The situation began after staff members at REACH reportedly not only told the elementary school boy he couldn’t read the Bible, but they also allegedly tried to take it from him, saying that the program could lose state funding if he continued reading it.
The American Civil Liberties Union requested in its letter that REACH train employees in students’ rights and that the little boy be allowed to read his Bible during free reading periods.
The letter claimed that “Tennessee public school students cannot be denied the right to engage in religious activities during student activity times, recess and other free time,” so long as these activities are not disruptive.
According to the Alabama Baptist, REACH is a primarily government-funded after-school program that operates in Cannon County schools. It’s intent is to assist children in learning and growing from pre-kindergarten through high school by offering tutoring and academic assistance.
Its name stands for “Reach: Enrichment, Afterschool and Community Health.”
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