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Indiana parents sue school district over religious education

Religion Briefs: Indiana parents sue school district over religious education

By The Associated Press | Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 8:30 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — Parents of a Fort Wayne third-grader have sued the school district, claiming the girl was sent to a religious program on school grounds without their permission.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed the federal lawsuit for the parents, argues that the program is unconstitutional and should be barred from operating on school property. The ACLU also wants to prevent the school from sending students to the religious program without parents' explicit consent.

The Haley Elementary School student and her parents are named in the suit only by their initials. Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman declined comment. The head of the church group that offers the program was traveling and couldn't be reached July 2.

According to the lawsuit, the child was taken to the class in a trailer on school property for several weeks this past year while she was in third grade. Her parents had not given permission for her to attend the class and she was removed after they found out.

Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County has since 1944 offered the weekly classes in which students learn the Bible during school day sessions in mobile classrooms that are nicknamed "little churches on wheels," or in some cases at a nearby church building. The group's website says 80 percent of local schoolchildren in grades 3, 4 and 5 take part. The group says the classes are non-denominational and use the Good News Bible as a textbook.

The class, the website says,

"is based on understanding the word of God and applying it to our lives, living as an example of God's love, and trying to be more like Jesus every day."


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