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ICC Note: The mother of a West Virginia kindergartner recently sued the child’s school system over an optional “Bible in the Schools” program. Although participation in the program is completely voluntary for students, and an alternative course is offered, she argued that her daughter may feel like an outsider if she does not participate while other classmates do. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is representing the mother in this case, but it is not yet clear if the school system intends to respond.
By Heather Clark
01/24/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – An atheist woman whose daughter attends a public elementary school in West Virginia has filed a lawsuit to challenge a more than 75-year-old elective Bible course as she “wishes to raise her child … without religion.”
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed suit on behalf of the woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous under the name “Jane Doe.” Her daughter Jamie attends an elementary school in Mercer County, and is in kindergarten.
The Mercer County school system offers a “Bible in the Schools” program, which is available on a weekly basis in over a dozen elementary schools and three middle schools.
The course, which is paid for by a non-profit organization, is elective—that is, it is available voluntarily for students who desire to learn about the Bible. The district requires that schools offer an alternative for students who prefer another option.
However, the woman is concerned that because most students choose to attend the classes, her daughter could be ostracized by others if she decides not to join the program, which has been in place since the 1930’s. She feels that her only choices are to expose her daughter to Christianity against her will or risk having her daughter looked down upon by others.
“Jamie will either be forced to attend Bible indoctrination classes against the wishes and conscience of Jane Doe, or Jamie will be the only or one of only a few children who do not participate. Jamie will therefore be made conspicuous by absence, and essentially be identified as a non-Christian or nonbeliever, subjecting Jamie to the risk of ostracism from peers and even school staff,” the suit claims.

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