Board Approves Bible Instruction

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A week after U.S. District Judge Richard A. Enslen issued a temporary injunction barring an evangelical group from conducting Bible-study classes during school hours in one Michigan district, the board of education in a nearby district voted to continue religious classes conducted by the same evangelical group in its schools.

Judge Enslen issued his injunction this month at the request of the state attorney general on behalf of the state board of education. He said the lunch hour is part of the school day and that Bible-club meetings in public-school buildings during school hours are impermissible and unconstitutional, according to Richard L. Miller, superintendent of the Tri-County School District.

Classes Reinstated

Mr. Miller had suspended Bible-study classes at two elementary schools in his district last May, but they were reinstated by the local school board despite a contrary advisory opinion by the attorney general. (See Education Week, May 16, 1984.)

The Michigan school code provides that any student can be released for up to two hours a week for religious instruction. According to Gerald F. Young, the state's assis-tant attorney general, the "release time is for classes off the school premises."

Following the injunction, the school board of the Hudsonville Public Schools voted to continue its Bible-study classes, which are offered in six elementary schools by Bible Center Ministries, an evangelistic group that offers classes to more than 2,500 students of about 70 public schools in Western Michigan.

According to Jack D. Musser, the superintendent of the 2,328-student district, some parents and the American Civil Liberties Union have urged that the religious classes be discontinued.

No Court Ruling

But Mr. Musser said that "there has been no court ruling dealing with the matter. We have no directions legally. Until the time the district is found in violation, we will continue as in the past.'

According to Mr. Young, the assistant attorney general, "Hudsonville is not a party to the Tri-County case and is not bound by court order to halt the religious classes."

"We are now in the process of reviewing what is happening in Hudsonville and we will do whatever is appropriate in the next several weeks," Mr. Young said.--sr

Vol. 04, Issue 08

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