A school district in West Virginia is facing a lawsuit filed by two county residents who claim the school district violated their constitutional rights by having a Bible study class.
Supporters of the Bible class claim attendance is optional for the district’s 6,600 students, with classes offered during school hours for 30 minutes in elementary school and 45 minutes in middle school, according to the Mercer County Board of Education.
Opponents to the class claim the class is unconstitutional due to a previous allegation from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, according to AP News.
“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” according to the lawsuit filed in January by the FFRF.
While the Bible class is optional, almost every child in the district attends. This has led students who attend the Bible class to bully their peers who don’t participate, according to the Washington Post.
“They taunted her about it,” said Elizabeth Deal, the mother of a bullied girl, in an interview with the Washington Post. “They told her that she was going to hell, that I was going to hell.”
Reverend David Dockery responded to the allegations by saying his experiences with the Bible classes have been positive, and he has never heard about anyone being pressured or ostracized for not attending the class, according to the Washington Post.
Many locals claim the allegations are on the rise because the FFRF attempted to ban the class earlier this year.
“This is plaintiff’s second effort to craft a viable complaint against defendants, asking this court to forever end all Bible classes of any kind taught in public school in Mercer County,” according to the West Virginia Records, a news organization dedicated to covering West Virginia’s legal system.