NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee school district that was sued last year by two atheist families for promoting Christianity has agreed to stop the practice, according to a consent decree filed in federal court in Nashville on Monday.
In the consent decree, the Smith County School District admitted that Christian prayers were delivered over the school address system, Bibles were distributed to fifth graders, and Bible verses and other religious messages were posted in school hallways, among other things.
Promoting religion and coercing religious exercise is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the decree states.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the families by the American Civil Liberties Union. In a news release about the decree, plaintiff Kelly Butler said, “I’m relieved the school district recognized that its widespread promotion of religion was unconstitutional. My children, and all children, deserve an education that is free from the type of religious coercion that our family has suffered.”