TN School District Settles Lawsuit With ACLU, Agrees to Stop “Imposing Religion on Students”

By Ryan Foley,
Christian Post Reporter

A school district in Tennessee has agreed to an injunction requiring district officials to cut back on religious expression during the school day and at sporting events.

A federal judge in Tennessee issued the injunction Monday, putting an end to a nearly yearlong legal battle that began when the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Tennessee brought a lawsuit on behalf of two parents concerned about the school district “unconstitutionally imposing religion on students.”

Now that the school district has agreed to abide by the terms of the order, the lawsuit has ended.

In a press release, the ACLU of Tennessee described the ruling as a “victory for religious freedom.”

It claimed the school district engaged in “unconstitutional activities” over the years, including “school-directed prayer during mandatory assemblies; the distribution and display of Bibles during classes; Bible verses posted in hallways and shared in notes from school staff to students; prayers broadcast through loudspeakers at school sporting events … and a large Latin cross painted on the wall of a school athletic facility.”

The injunction forbids district officials from “promoting, advancing, endorsing, participating in, or causing Prayers during or in conjunction with School Events for any school within the School District,” promoting their religious beliefs in class, and taking retaliatory action against the plaintiffs who brought the case against the school district.

“This victory is a reminder to school districts all over the country that public schools have no right to push religion on students or create a religiously exclusionary and hostile environment,” said Heather L. Weaver, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Plaintiff Kelly Butler commented, “I’m relieved the school district recognized that its widespread promotion of religion was unconstitutional. My children, and all children, deserve an education that is free from the type of religious coercion that our family has suffered.”

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