Tenn. Bible Study Suit Hits Federal Court

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After a five-year battle, one fourth grader's fight to hold Bible study in school has reached federal court in Tennessee.

Samuel and Tina Whitson sued the school after the principal told their son Luke and other students they couldn't read and discuss the Bible during recess.

"It felt like they were telling me my religion was wrong, that I was a freak for wanting to read the Bible," Luke, now 14, testified. "We felt it was wrong for one parent to complain (and cause) all of these kids to lose their right."

They filed a federal lawsuit in the district court against the Knox County Board of Education and former school superintendant Charles Lindsey.

The Whitsons are only seeking $1 in damages and acknowledgment that their son's Constitutional rights were violated.

A Matter of Semantics?

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the verdict may depend on semantics such as the difference between a "group" and a "class."

Several months after the incident, Principal Cathy Summa told parents in a letter that she was approached by a students asking her if they could have a Bible study "group" during recess.

"My response was that children could not have a Bible study class during the school day. I also stated that children certainly could bring a Bible to school. In fact, I have a Bible in my office, as do several teachers at Karns," Summa stated in the letter.

This week, school leaders told a judge the issue could have been resolved without a lawsuit.

Tina Whitson said the lawsuit was filed "to correct a wrong, to right a wrong, hopefully so that it won't happen again."

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