In an effort to protect the religious freedom of all public school students, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee sent a letter to the Cannon County REACH after-school program explaining that students have a constitutional right to read religious texts of their own volition during free-reading periods.
ACLU-TN sent the letter on behalf of Cannon County mother Lisa Koepfgen, who reported that REACH staff told her elementary-school-aged son that he could read any book except the Bible and that he would have to put the Bible away. When he refused, staff tried to take his Bible from him, mistakenly claiming that the state could shut the program down if they allowed him to read it.
ACLU-TN’s letter requested that the REACH program train its employees on “their obligation under the law to safeguard their students’ religious liberties without imposing religion on them.” The letter also requests that the child be allowed to read his Bible during free read periods and other student activity time.
In response to the letter, the after-school program educated their staff on students’ constitutional rights in public schools, circulating ACLU-TN’s letter to staff members.
ACLU-TN Protects Student’s Right to Read Bible at School (March 31, 2014)