The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit seeking to ban Bible study classes in West Virginia schools.
The FFRF filed a motion on Jan. 18 to have the “Bible in the Schools” program removed from schools in Mercer County, West Virginia. The program is offered in 19 schools, including 15 elementary schools, one intermediate school and three middle schools.
The lawsuit was filed under the belief that religious indoctrination in a public school violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and Article III, Section 15 of the West Virginia Constitution which states, “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,” according to the lawsuit.
The “Bible in the Schools” program has been utilized for voluntary weekly classes in Mercer County since 1939, adhering to a strict curriculum of guidelines set forth by the West Virginia Attorney General in 1985, according to the FFRF website.
The bible classes begin in first grade and are taught by rotating teachers. The curriculum includes the Old and New Testaments, covering the Creation, the Ten Commandments, understanding baptism and the events leading to Christ’s death, according to the lawsuit.
The Mercer County Board of Education has administered the program since 1986.
Jane Doe, a member of FFRF and Mercer County resident, is the primary plaintiff behind the lawsuit. Her daughter, Jamie, is a kindergarten student at a Mercer County school.
Doe is an atheist and wishes to raise her child without religion. Although the classes are voluntary, most students attend. Doe believes Jamie will be ostracized by her peers for choosing not to attend the classes, according to the lawsuit.