HUDSONVILLE, Mich. – A Michigan anti-religion group is all cheers after it successfully pressured a local school district into evicting a church-run RV Bible study mobile from an elementary school parking lot.
The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists – a group that strives to eradicate any reference to religion in public life – successfully forced the Hudsonville School District to ban a camper that parked at Hudsonville South Elementary School to teach students about the bible during lunch and recess, WZZM 13 reports.
MACRA contends a concerned parent contacted the group about the camper run by Bible Club Ministries before MACRA staffers took pictures of the camper, as well as a flyer inside the school, and called to confront school officials.
“It’s been more than 70 years since the Supreme Court required public schools to separate themselves from religion,” Mitch Kahle, MACRA spokesman, told the news station.
“In no case is a Bible class allowed on public school property while school is in session; this means during recess, this means during lunch hour.”
Most folks in Hudsonville, however, are likely more offended by MACRA’s demands than by the allegedly illegal Bible camper. Hudsonville is located in the deeply religious and conservative Ottawa County, which is populated heavily with God-fearing Dutch conservatives.
The Daily Caller ranked Ottawa the 51st most conservative county in America in 2010.
More recently, Ottawa County commissioners bucked complaints over a park sign that quoted Psalm 19 and voted in January to reinstall it, according to the Detroit News.
MACRA is also currently looking into the City of Hudsonville’s mission statement because it states “The City Commission and Administration of the City of Hudsonville strive to serve God,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
School officials told WZZM 13 they believed the Bible camper was permissible during non-instructional hours, such as recess or lunch, but the district’s attorney clarified that the law prohibits such activity during school hours.
School officials said they banned the camper from school property during regular school hours, but it’s welcome to return after hours. They also removed the flyers advertising The Bible Club Ministries from inside schools. Many students at a six of the district’s schools meet at the camper weekly to learn about the Bible, three of which already held after school service, Hudsonville officials told WZZM 13.
MACRA’s Kahle told the news station he hopes Hudsonville’s issue will convince other schools to reconsider similar programs.
“We’re hoping this situation will be used by other schools to review their programs to make sure that if there is religious instruction on school property that it’s being done before school or after school,” he said.
The Bible camper eviction is at least MACRA’s second victory in recent months.
“In December Kahle led an effort to remove a faith-based organization in the Fruitport School District and the group’s founder was not happy, WZZM 13 reports.
“These are small school districts here, so it’s easy to bully us, it’s easy to bare down on us, and there’s injustice in that,” Russ Gabel, founder of Freewater Experience, said December.
Kahle said MACRA is just getting started.
“We’ve been involved in these issues for 25 years, and now we’re finding out here in West Michigan that there are a number of violations of the Constitution that need to be addressed,” he said.
Constitution or no Constitution, MACRA is against religion of any sorts, according to the group’s Facebook page.
“A local community hospital prominently displayed evangelistic literature in its emergency room waiting area. Although not a First Amendment issue, MACRA member Brian Plescher wrote to the hospital indicating that the display conflicts with their mission statement to respect people of all spiritual backgrounds. The Director of Patient Relations informed us today the offending literature and display have been removed,” MACRA posted earlier today.