School visits from "Bible Man" halted in Grundy Co. after constitutionality questioned
GRUNDY COUNTY, TN -
"Bible Man" is known as a staple in Grundy County Schools. His name is Horace Turner, and he's been visiting there for decades. But now his visits are raising legal red flags.
National groups warn that his message is unconstitutional. Many local supporters are fighting to keep his mission alive. But not everyone is comfortable with "Bible Man" in the classroom.
"We don't want people to be mad, we just want people to make sure there's an alternative something for the kids to do," said one Grundy County mom. She didn't want to be identified for fear of community backlash for her non-Christian views.
She said Bible Man's religious convocations at her son's school were uncomfortable. They included religious teachings like songs and Baby Jesus displays. Their family is Atheist.
"At first he did not know that he didn't have to go," she said. "As he got older, it bothered him that he had to sit through this because it's not his religion."
Bible Man has been visiting Grundy County Schools for nearly 40 years without any problems, until recently. Last month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote the school after hearing a local complaint.
The letter warns that Bible Man assemblies violate the constitution, and Bible Man is currently taking a break from visiting the schools.
"I believe the perception was that we're trying to get rid of him, and that was not the perception we wanted to present," said Dr. Willie Childers, interim Director of Schools.
"At the last board meeting, there were several concerned citizens wanting to make sure that Bible Man or Mr. Turner will continue to be in Grundy County," said Childers, who hopes the school will adopt a "club schedule."
That schedule would allow students to have the freedom to participate in a club of their choosing, which could include a religious-based club.
"We are trying to make sure that the procedures that we do are legal and constitutional for every citizen," Childers said.
While the concerned mom says she's glad it's being addressed, she still worries about the lack of acceptance for those who don't support Bible Man.
She points to threats made on Facebook against her child that include pictures of a burning house.
"We just can't get over how much hate there is in their loving, Christian hearts," she said.
The school board is still working out alternative plans, but hopes to have a policy in place before next school year.
Channel 3 made several attempts to reach Bible Man, but our phone calls were not returned.
Saturday, January 20 2018 6:08 PM EST2018-01-20 23:08:09 GMT
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