Tennessee Schools Ordered to Stop Holding Bible Classes

February 9, 2002

Source: The New York Times

On February 9, 2002, The New York Times reported that "the Tennessee county where the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 resulted in a verdict favoring the classroom teaching of biblical creationism over evolution was ordered today by a federal district judge here to stop holding Bible classes in its elementary schools... The classes, held in Rhea County for 51 years, violate the constitutional separation of church and state, said the judge, R. Allan Edgar...The 30-minute classes were held weekly for about 800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at the county's three elementary schools. Parental consent was not required, though pupils were allowed to participate in alternative activities if they objected to the classes... A couple with two children in the schools sued over the classes, which were taught by students from Bryan College, a Christian institution... In the Bible classes case, the Rhea County school system contended that the lessons included 'character education.' But the judge ruled that county school officials 'acted with both purpose and effect to endorse and advance religion in the public schools.'"