A prominent atheist organization is demanding Ohio school districts block an off-campus Bible study that students can engage in during school hours.
In a letter sent Tuesday to some 600 public schools across the state, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation rebuked the school districts for the approval of a time-released Bible study program hosted by the Ohio ministry LifeWise Academy.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, argued in a statement students who participate in the program are “being punished by losing hundreds of hours of academic instruction to LifeWise’s released-time Bible study classes,” adding that, if parents want their children to be exposed to biblical teachings, they should find ways to “do it without cutting into valuable school hours.”
“The released-time program involves a public school allowing students to attend religious instruction during school hours, provided that it is off-campus and not directly endorsed by the school itself,” wrote Gaylor.
FFRF legal fellow Samantha Lawrence stated Ohio law “does not require allowing this disruption to the school day” and urged schools that may be allowing students to participate in LifeWise Academy studies to “reconsider this policy.”
The legal fellow went on to argue the goal of LifeWise Academy is to “indoctrinate and convert public school students to evangelical Christianity by convincing public school districts to partner with them in bringing LifeWise released-time Bible classes to public school communities.”
“FFRF has received several complaints from families in different school districts alleging that non-attending students were given busy work, or no work at all, as a consequence of staying behind during released time classes,” claimed Lawrence.