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ADF attorneys ask court to let 10-year-old student read Bible at recess

Motion for preliminary injunction filed in Whitson v. Knox County Board of Education case
Students Can Make a Difference at Bring Your Bible to School Day

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund today asked a federal district court to order the Knox County Board of Education to respect the constitutional rights of students while the case of a 10-year-old student prohibited from reading the Bible during recess goes forward.

“Apparently the school officials have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution,” explained ADF Senior Legal Counsel Nate Kellum, based in ADF’s Memphis office.  “The Constitution does not prohibit Bibles during recess; it prohibits the wholesale banning of Bibles during recess.”

Karns Elementary School and Knox County School District officials prohibit students from reading and discussing the Bible during recess.  Attorneys with ADF represent 10-year-old student Luke Whitson and his parents.  They filed suit after they were unable to resolve the unconstitutional policy with the officials through legal counsel.

“Luke Whitson should not be prevented from exercising his First Amendment right to read his Bible with friends during recess. We are asking the court to make sure he can do this while the case continues,” Kellum said.

In press reports, the principal and other officials have contended that recess is not “free time” and that, therefore, the school can prohibit Bible reading during that period.

According to the motion for preliminary injunction filed today, “This case is about a ten-year-old child who wishes merely to read his Bible and discuss passages found therein with a friend during recess time at school, and the school officials, who, acting under the authority and weight of the government, refuse to let him.” 

The case, Whitson v. Knox County Board of Education, was filed June 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville.  Co-counsel in the case is ADF-allied attorney Charles Pope of the Athens legal organization JMF Counsel.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.