GALLATIN, Tenn. – The American Center for Law and Justice, the legal group representing the Sumner County School District in a religious lawsuit, hosted a town hall meeting at Volunteer State Community College on Monday night to discuss the issue of religion in schools.
The meeting was brought on by a lawsuit filed against the district by American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee in May, when four families accused the school district of endorsing religious activities.
Most recently, the school district was under scrutiny for the student-led prayer event “See you at the Pole” and after four Westmoreland Middle School football coaches were seen bowing their heads during a student-led prayer after a football game.
The American Center for Law and Justice used the meeting as an opportunity to answer questions and explain how the school district views religion in the schools.
“This school board is not in the business of suppressing constitutional rights, it's in the business of protecting constitutional rights.” American Center for Law and Justice Sr. Counsel, David French, told Nashville's News 2.
He said the school district will fight the ACLU's allegations.
“The school board has drawn the lines the lines that need to be drawn to make sure students are protected and also to make sure that teachers rights are respected as well,” he said.
French said that Sumner County students have their constitutional rights to pray and to engage in religious expression that's not disruptive to the school.
Several in attendance at the meeting held signs, American flags, cheered and clapped to show their support of the school district.
“Parents, teachers, students should be allowed to express our religious freedom, it's a right under our constitution,” Sumner County resident Sandy Waller told Nashville's News 2. “It's [the lawsuit] just wrong, absolutely wrong and that's why I'm here. The constitution did not say freedom from religion, it said freedom of religion.”
The ACLU has filed similar lawsuits against the Cheatham and Wilson counties in the past few years.
The American Center for Law and Justice expects the school district's case to go to trial sometime in 2012.
- Sept. 28, 2011: School officials cautious for See You at the Pole prayer event
- Sept. 16, 2011: Principal reports coaches bowing heads during post-game prayer
- May 2, 2011: ACLU files federal lawsuit against Sumner Co.