A West Virginia school district has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at ending the Bible in the Schools program, which has been offered in the schools since 1939.
In January, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against Mercer County Schools on behalf of a parent who wished to raise her daughter without religion. The plaintiff, identified in the suit as "Jane Doe," stated in the lawsuit that her daughter risks being ostracized by other students if she does not join the Bible classes.
The motion to dismiss was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of West Virginia last week by the Texas-based legal firm First Liberty Institute on behalf of the school district.
The legal firm argued in the motion that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs lack the standing to bring the case to court.
"The purported harms Plaintiffs allege are merely speculative, resulting from choices the [Plaintiffs] say they may have to make well into the future and related fear of potential ostracism that is grounded only in speculation, not in fact," the motion read.
First Liberty noted that the plaintiffs who are asking an injunction against the Bible course have never attended the classes. "Plaintiff Jamie Doe, Jane's Doe's child, a kindergartner, is not old enough to enroll," the motion stated, according to Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
The legal firm also argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because it is "a facial attack on Mercer County's constitutional right to offer optional Bible classes in public schools for the benefit of the many students who are interested in receiving Bible instruction."
The FFRF argued in the lawsuit that the program endorses one religion and violates the consciences of non-Christian parents and students.
According to a press release from the group, the Bible classes are taught by itinerant teachers who have a "degree in Bible." Weekly classes, which last between 30 to 45 minutes, are held in 15 elementary schools, one intermediate school, and three middle schools.
The classes are financed by the "Bluefield Bible Study Fund, Inc.," which operates a fund to support Bible teachers to instruct about 4,000 students, the FFRF noted. Each lesson contains 70 to 90 visuals, which include images of Jesus being tortured, nailed to the cross, and ascending to heaven.