The Smith County Board of Education in Tennessee has been accused and sued over Promoting Christianity in a "religiously hostile" setting. After admitting to incorporating prayer into official activities and morning announcements, as well as proselytizing students through distribution of Bibles and religious iconography, the School District has agreed to stop these practices.
The district was sued last year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the two plaintiff families. One of the students of the families released this statement explaining her experiences with her school's religious promotions, "Overall, it's really uncomfortable. You feel like you don't fit in at all. I feel like it's almost like it's coercing everybody to be the same. I feel uncomfortable because I feel like I'm the only one sitting there not participating."
The senior staff attorney for ACLU, Heather Weaver, also stated that "the court's order comes in the form of a consent decree, meaning the school district-to its credit-recognized that these practices are legally indefensible and agreed to an injunction. Religious equality for all students in America's public schools remains elusive. Victories like today's mark an important milestone in this fight, but there is still much more work to be done. Every student, regardless of their faith, should be able to access public education without discrimination and religious influence by school officials."
As of Monday, a decree filed in the Nashville Federal Court declared Smith County's actions as a violation of the First Amendment. Kelly Butler, a parent whose students attend Smith County schools had this to say about the decree release, "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."