A longstanding fixture in Grundy County, Horace Turner, known as the Bibleman, was recently informed that he would no longer be allowed to hold Bible study in local elementary schools.
Complaints of Turner’s Bible study sessions in local schools reached the ACLU and the Wisconsin Freedom from Religion Foundation who contacted the school system.
“The Grundy County Board of Education has received a complaint regarding Mr. Turner’s support of the Grundy County Schools,” stated interim Director of Schools, Dr. Willie Childers.
Turner was asked to discontinue his school visits as the school board’s lawyer handles the matter.
Tim Spicer, Chairman of Grundy County School Board, says he has spoken with both the school board attorney and the Christian Law Association and Alliance Defending Freedom (organizations of Christian lawyers who dedicate time and resources to fighting issues similar to the one involving Turner). “Both groups told me the same thing Scott Bennett told us. They were both surprised and thankful that we have been permitted to have this program for this long,” says Spicer.
“However, all three attorneys agree that there are other ways to have Mr. Turner’s program. The simplest way would be to make it an after school program just like any other club or activity. The second option is to have what is called ‘release time’. With this, parents would sign permission slips allowing their children to participate in Mr. Turner’s program during school hours. The catch is that the program must be conducted off school grounds and someone other than the school system would have to provide transportation.”
Ann Partain, a parent who remembers her own Bible lessons with Turner, says nobody was forced to go to the sessions at the schools. “I don’t feel it is an issue of constitutional rights. If people of other religions did not want to go see Mr. Turner, they were not forced to. They had a choice. There is a petition going around to allow Mr. Turner to return to the schools and it has been signed by students, concerned parents, and community members. There is also a Facebook site in support of Mr. Turner, ‘Bring Mr. Turner Back.’”
Partain says Turner has had a huge influence on the lives of children in the county for many years.
The petition will be presented to the Grundy County School Board in April.