A school district in Michigan has canceled a Bible course offered at a church during students' lunchtime hour, prompting outcry from local parents.
Fremont Public Schools recently put an end to the Release Time Bible Study program offered at Pathfinder Elementary School and Daisy Brook Elementary School.
Fremont Superintendent Ken Haggart provided comments to The Christian Post on Friday explaining that the class had been offered for about 10 years.
Haggart noted that the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists first protested the class two years ago when it was being held on school grounds.
"It was being run on campus, and at that time we learned that it needed to be run off campus and transportation taken care of by parents and local churches," said Haggart.
"About a week ago, we were again contacted by MACRA and told that someone had filed a complaint about the fliers that were given to parents announcing the Release Time programming, and the distribution process used to deliver the fliers."
Coupled with a complaint that only Christianity was being advanced, Haggart explained that the school district contacted their lawyers, who advised cancelling the program, at least for the time being.
"Our goal is to examine what we are doing, make sure it follows the guidelines of the law, and bring the program back next fall," continued Haggart.
News of the cancellation prompted outcry from many parents who saw nothing wrong with the Bible class, according to Fox 17 of West Michigan.
"I don't agree with [the cancellation] 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," explained one parent to Fox 17.
"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."
Regarding the backlash, Haggart told CP that the local response to the cancellation was indeed largely negative, but that the focus of the anger was changing.
"Though the initial response was negative toward the district for cancelling the program, the majority of parents are now angry with MACRA and feel the district is being harassed and their rights are being trampled upon," said Haggart.
"Of course Release Time is allowed under Michigan Statute, so Fremont Public Schools is supportive of all families that would like to participate in any such program."