ELIZABETHTON, TENN. -- No "Bible ladies" will be allowed in Carter County public schools when pupils return in the fall.
The county Board of Education, with little discussion and on a voice vote, decided this week to bar CBM Ministries Inc. from holding Bible sessions for pupils until a federal judge decides whether the classes are constitutional.
The vote, which reverses the panel's decision last year, came on the recommendation of board attorney John Banks and on the heels of a lawsuit filed by parents who object to the classes on religious grounds.
"We don't know that the people at CBM have been doing anything that violates the Constitution, but if they have, we want to know about it. The federal judge will decide that," Banks said.
Two of the six board members voted against the change.
"The public, in my church and among the community, is strong for CBM," said Murriel Holtsclaw, one of the dissenters. "As a Christian, I had to vote no."
Board member Sam Greenwell said he voted to keep CBM in schools because "this is the old Bible Belt community, and they have no problem with them being there."
Paula and Rick Whitman, whose two sons attend public school in the county, filed a class-action suit in federal court July 2 on behalf of themselves and a family that has since moved away. The suit seeks $300,000 in damages for each family.
The suit contends the couples and their children were harassed because they opposed the lessons.