Atheists are clashing with public school officials in Scottsboro, Alabama, where there's a heated debate going on over "Bible Man" and his monthly assemblies with public school children.
See, Bible Man isn't a superhero (okay, maybe he is); he's a story-teller. As you can imagine, it's these stories -- tales that come from the Christian Bible -- that have non-believers up-in-arms.
About 35-years-ago, Bible Man began his ministry in the Alabama county. Now, decades later, it is his son, Horace Turner Jr., who is continuing the mission. Each month, he meets with elementary school children during the school day and leads them in assemblies that include Biblical stories.
Recently, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, claiming to represent a parent in the district, sent a five-page letter of complaint to officials. In it, the atheist group called for the Bible Man program to be removed from schools.
As a result of the complaint, on Jan. 30, a multitude of community members came together at a Jackson County school board meeting to support the continued presence of Bible Man in the school district. WAAY-TV has more about the event:
It was a packed house. More than one hundred people showed up to make their voices heard.
"We wanted our county to have an option for our children He's been part of our county so long and our children appreciate and love it and we just feel that our children value it," said concerned citizen Beverly Gilmer. [...]
While the board met, the people sang, prayed, and shared life testimonies.
To atheists' dismay, after meeting with their lawyer, board members announced that they wouldn't be banning Bible Man as requested. Those at the public event applauded the decision.
"We know it’s going to be a fight," said superintendent Kenneth Harding. "But our constituents are pretty adamant about what they want for their children. Hopefully we can meet the law and keep the man, too."
The FFRF, though, won't be dissuaded. The group is planning to follow-up on its complaint. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the organization's co-president, says that the decision not to ban Bible Man is "totally unacceptable."
"We cannot put the power of religious interpretation in the hands of the Bible Man, the Quran Man or anyone else," she continued. "We cannot offer indoctrinal classes in public schools. It’s disingenuous to say this does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment."
But Alabama state Sen. Shadrack McGill (R) has a different view. If parents don't like Bible Man, he says they should consider homeschooling their children.
"We were established to be a godly nation, a Christian nation," McGill said. "We need God in government. We need God in the public school. The more we trend away from God, the more we suffer – morally and spiritually."
To respond to the atheists' criticism, the district is looking into a set policy that would allow Bible Man to stay in schools, while still complying with Constitutional values. For the time being, Turner will not be taking his program into the North Sand Mountain School, where the complaint originated from a student's parent.
There is currently no confirmation as to whether the program will continue in other district schools while this new policy is being set.
(H/T: Alabama Live)
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