Tennessee Student Allegedly Told Not to Read Bible During After-School Program

Bible III pdWOODBURY, Tenn. — A prominent legal organization recently sent a letter to the director of an after-school program as the parents of a young boy claimed that their son was told that he could not read the Bible on the premises.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee mailed correspondence to the Cannon County REACH program late last month after being contacted by the parents of a child who has remained unidentified due to his age.

The mother states that she was contacted by the manager of the program last month and told to pick up her son. She told the ACLU that her son was prohibited from reading his Bible during the free read period and advised to select another book. When he refused, staff allegedly attempted to take the Bible from him, warning that the center could be shut down by the state.

The ACLU then sent a letter to Linda Bedwell, the director of REACH, to outline the boy’s rights under the law.

“The REACH site manager and staff’s actions and statements regarding the student’s ability to read the Bible of his own volition during a free read period demonstrate a misunderstanding of the religious liberty protections in the U.S. Constitution, the Tennessee Constitution and federal laws,” the letter read. “We believe that this incident arose from a fundamental misunderstanding of the protections and guarantees of the First Amendment.”

The ACLU outlined that the purpose of the First Amendment is to “preserve the freedom to worship” and that students “cannot be denied the right to engage in religious activities” at school, provided that they are not causing a disruption to others.

“Reading the Bible, or any other religious text, during a free read period would fall within these protected freedoms,” the letter advised.

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But Bedwell states that the child is not prohibited from reading his Bible at REACH, and presented a different set of circumstances to reporters.

“I’ve seen Bibles here before,” she told the Huffington Post. “We don’t encourage or deny anybody the right to bring their Bible to read.”

Bedwell claims that the student had arrived to the program “already upset” as he had been in an argument, and that when he was asked to put his belongings away—including his Bible, he refused.

“Our mission is to continue to ensure that we treat every child justly and fairly in everything,” she said. “As for discriminating against the Bible, that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Reports state that Bedwell responded to the ACLU’s letter, stating that there had been a misunderstanding, but that she would advise her staff to ensure that students have the freedom to read the Bible during the program if they so desire.

The ACLU states that it is pleased that students’ rights will be protected regardless of the disagreement over the details of the incident.

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  • yoitsmedude

    do not let the (ACLU) have any part of this they are the enemy. Remember Mr baldwin who was a draft dodge card carrying communist will that’s the ACLU! Those are the ones who fight to take crosses down stop prayer. I would suggest ACLJ or there are other Christian organizations. Most of the problem facing Religion are due to the ACLU. In fact in 1960 when a non believing woman complained her boy should not have to pray? That was the card that took prayer from all schools. It just took one complaint. Now look across the country has it helped I would say No! In fact this could be the main reason we have leaders who can quickly change their minds about say homosexuality. Which is not even about rights its about taking away the rights of Christians.

    • RosaVera

      You are right…no one should contact the ACLU with any of our problems when it comes to defending our religious liberty… they will make believe to defend you and at the same time work to take it away. They are the enemy of everything we stand for and are hard at work to make sure Christianity is destroyed. This family should have contacted the many Christian defense lawyers and let them do their job for us… never, ever contact the ACLU…!

  • Jennifer Pruitt

    The kid was not breaking any rules. Also, these people should be charged with attempted theft for trying to take the Bible. Let someone do that to my child! The only way they would get that Bible is if they pry it from my child’s cold dead hand! The parents need to pursue a civil suit.