A lawsuit against a West Virginia school district challenging bible classes has finally been settled.
BLUEFIELD — In a settlement in which a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit concerning Bible classes once taught in Mercer County Schools, an insurer for the school system has agreed to pay $225,000 to cover the plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys fees, the Freedom from Religion Foundation announced Tuesday.
Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber (George H W BUSH) dismissed a lawsuit Monday concerning the former Bible in the Schools program and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), according to court documents.
The FFRF, with Elizabeth Deal as a plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against the Mercer County Board of Education and the former superintendent of schools, Deborah Akers, in January 2017 to stop the Bible in the Schools program, which had been offered as an elective to elementary school students for 75 years. Deal said that her daughter, who was in elementary school at that time, was allegedly harassed and ostracized by other students for not taking the class.
Although the program’s cost, about $500,000 annually, was generated from private donations, the school board administered the program and hired teachers. The FFRF lawsuit contended that the Bible in the Schools instruction was like “Sunday classes” and violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause related to promoting one religion in public schools.
The school system had defended the curriculum by claiming the lessons taught history and literature. However, much of the program was fundamentalist Christian instruction. For example, a lesson on Adam and Eve featured the pair with a dinosaur in the background. It asked students: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur! He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!” – FFRF
“We are pleased that this violation involving the illegal proselytizing of youngsters has come to a mutual resolution,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “But it should not take a lawsuit and years of effort to stop blatantly unconstitutional school programs.”