School district cancels offsite Bible study classes after parent complaint

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FREMONT, Mich. -- Fremont Public Schools canceled its Bible Release Time program after a parent complained. It's a Bible study held during lunchtime, off-site at the Fremont Weslyan Church.

Terveer is just one of the parents upset after the district suspended the program. Her daughter attends Daisy Brook Elementary School.

Terveer said, “I explained it a little bit to my daughter. She was pretty confused about why they were doing this and who was doing it. She’s only 10.”

“I don’t agree with it because I don’t believe it is a violation of the first amendment. It’s not on school property. Parents have to sign their kids. It’s completely optional," she explained.

The study lasted about 45 minutes, and the kids were picked up by a church van. But the school said suspending the program was the best option after a complaint from a parent prompted the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists to send a letter to the district. MACRA posted on its Facebook page:

"The "Bible Release Time" program at Daisy Brook is clearly designed to promote and support one particular religion, pastor, and church, and is thus an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Such programs are discriminatory and violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Pastor John Perkins spearheads the Bible study program and said he hosts these classes in multiple districts.

“I have 18 classes that I teach a month. So I go by Kent City, Grant, Newaygo, Fremont, White Cloud, and Hesperia," Perkins said.

He said he just learned of the cancellation in Fremont yesterday.

“We were supposed to have one yesterday and one Monday, and they told me to cancel it and they me why," Perkins stated.

So he said he called his attorney.

“He said that by law as long as I have permission slips, as long as the parents sign those permission slips, and I take the kids off campus to a church or wherever that I’m within my legal rights to do that," Perkins said.

But Fremont superintendent Ken Haggart issued this statement saying:

"In light of complaints from the MI Association of Civil Rights activists, it was recommended by school attorneys to discontinue the program for the remainder of year [sic], allowing us to take time to make sure things are done correctly. The school hopes to continue the program in the future.”

Parents like Terveer said they understand the school’s decision but don’t know why anyone would file the complaint in the first place.

Terveer said, "In my opinion, if you're not physically or emotionally hurt by it, I don't know why somebody would make such a big fuss."

The parents and the pastor are hopeful the program will return in the fall.

MACRA did not respond to FOX 17 for further comment.

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  • steve

    One parent complained? One? What in hell is this country coming to? This isn’t political correctness run amok. It’s insanity! I always thought that majority ruled as long as laws aren’t being violated. If I was a parent of a student in Fremont I’d go directly to the gutless superintendent and raise hell like he’s never seen.

  • Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

    One person complains about an “off-site” program and the world needs to bend to that person’s wishes, Welcome to B. Hussein’s America! The parents should start packing school board meetings demanding the superintendent be immediately removed, and if they don’t follow the wishes of the people, special elections to remove the school board!

  • Chris

    I have no problem with it as long as no school funds are used and kids are not returning late. Still seems weird at lunch.

  • Shiloh's Mom

    If religious freedom rights are being taken away in conservative West Michigan, then we’re on the beginning of a very dangerous road. It won’t end until everyone stops bending to the whim of every minority voice. This is not only pathetic but scary as all get out. American seems much more worried about stifling Christians who preach love, than extreme Muslims who preach death to those who don’t believe as they do, and have abhorrent views towards women’s rights, gays, etc. How the hell did things get so crazy?

  • Common cents

    This parent that complained needs to be identified and taught a lesson. Then the superintendent needs a stronger lesson.

  • BS detector

    Liberals are always pulling this crap.
    want freedom of religion? keep voting Republican. its JUST that simple!

    • WestMiHumanBeing

      Freedom of religion is a value shared by both republicans and democrats. It is a value derived from the enlightenment and crosses political ideologies.

  • Rose

    Once again a small minority rules. If they can stop a small group of people in a Bible study, what’s to stop them from shutting down a church they don’t like or any other organization they think is getting special treatment?

  • Kevin Rahe

    “A creature with an intelligence wakes up in a world very strange and interesting; that seems to have a sort of plan, but a plan not very easy to understand. why shouldn’t he wonder what the plan is, and who planned, and why; and what in the world else he should do?” -G.K. Chesterton

  • Kevin Rahe

    “Separation of church and state” has already been applied beyond its defensible meaning, but heretofore its use in suppressing religion has at least been limited to particular combinations of time and place. Now this groups wants it to apply to time alone, which I think is an idea not supported by any court precedent.

  • Jim Mathews

    My question would be “who and what religion is the person making the complaint”? This is a major discrimination infraction, as a parent who may have signed a permission slip for a child to attend, I would be finding an attorney and filing charges. No one has been made to attend if they didn’t want to.

    • WestMiHumanBeing

      You would be wasting your money then because you would lose the case. The school was working in unison with a church, which is unconstitutional. The law states that it is the childs parents that must arrange the offsite practices, not the school and church. No one is stopping the kids from going, as long as it is not done illegally. Which this was or it would not have been forced to stop.

  • Jay

    That is how & why all of those stupid people & ” groups ” are getting everything they want. One single parent, who must be a SUPER JERK ( I’m using nice words ) complains? Probably threatened a lawsuit if they don’t shut it down. That’s the 1st part of the problem. The 2nd part is the wimpy, no backbone school board. The would rather shut down the majority who WANT this class, than face the ONE person who doesn’t want it. If they would stand up for what is right and stop wetting themselves every time some self righteous group demands that EVERYONE change policies, bathrooms, locker rooms, and so on just to satisfy a very, very ,very small group of people. I am getting so sick & tired of being told how intolerant I am by people that are totally intolerant of MY BELIEFS and RIGHTS.

  • Cheryl

    It is sad that one parent can ruin it for everyone else. Sorry they are so afraid of the bible. We should pray for that parent. They need them.

  • Jorge Ballivian

    A close school district to Freemont had to close a Bible Club last year. Our meeting was held during lunch hours but because of a complaint by a student and an email by the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent to the School’s Superintendent the meetings came to a stop. Our posture has been one of prayer and dialogue with our school district and the administration. We will be opening the Bible Study again in the Fall after school hours as a Ministerial Association sponsored event that kids with parent’s consent can attend. As followers of the the Lord Jesus our response in situations like these need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and not by our flesh. Jesus’ words resonate for all of us who are called by His name, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” JGB