Horace Turner, known as "Bibleman," has made a long-lasting impression in the town of Grundy County, Tennessee. For years, he has conducted Bible study classes for the local elementary schools. But recent complaints from opponents have now caused Turner to suspend his teachings.
Both the ACLU and the Wisconsin Freedom From Religion Foundation contacted the school system in response to complaints.
Chairman of Grundy County School Board, Tim Spicer, is working with attorneys for the school board, attorneys for the Christian Law Association and attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom, to find alternative ways to keep Turner’s Bible studies classes around.
“The simplest way would be to make it an after school program just like any other club or activity. The second option is to have what is called ‘release time’. With this, parents would sign permission slips allowing their children to participate in Mr. Turner’s program during school hours. The catch is that the program must be conducted off school grounds and someone other than the school system would have to provide transportation,” Spicer suggested, as reported by the Grundy County Herald.
Turner faced similar backlash in 2012 from Northeast Alabama County, when opponents filed complaints with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Alabama supporters of Turner’s teachings suggested that parents who had an issue with Bible study class should homeschool their children.
Alabama Sen. Shadrack McGill (R) said: “We were established to be a godly nation, a Christian nation. We need God in government. We need God in the public school. The more we trend away from God, the more we suffer — morally and spiritually,” according to AI.com.
In opposition, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president, argued: “Public schools are not to be a conduit for missionaries. It’s improper to proselytize in an elementary school. This is predation — with the blessing of the school district.”
Back in Tennessee, Ann Partain, a parent and former student of Turner, says: “I don’t feel it is an issue of constitutional rights. If people of other religions did not want to go see Mr. Turner, they were not forced to. They had a choice. There is a petition going around to allow Mr. Turner to return to the schools and it has been signed by students, concerned parents, and community members. There is also a Facebook site in support of Mr. Turner, ‘Bring Mr. Turner Back.’”