ACLU defends student’s right to read Bible at school

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WOODBURY, Tenn. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is defending the rights of a Tennessee student to read the Bible at school.

“The First Amendment exists to protect religious freedom,” said Thomas H. Castelli, legal director of the ACLU of Tennessee.

The ACLU sent a letter to the Cannon County REACH after-school program on behalf of a family who said their elementary school-aged son was told by staff that he could read any book except the Bible, and that he would have to put the Bible away during a free-reading period, WSMV-TV reported.

“ACLU Tennessee has a long-standing commitment to uphold and defend Tennesseans’ ability to practice religion, or not, as they choose,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee.

The ACLU says when the boy refused to put away his Bible, program staff tried to take it from him, mistakenly claiming the state could shut the program down if they allowed him to read it.

“The goal of our letter is to clarify for the REACH program what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution protects religious liberty,” Weinberg said.

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