A Tennessee mom said she and her child have been threatened after they complained about “Bible Man” visits to her son’s school.
The Christian-themed superhero character played by Horace Turner has been visiting Grundy County schools for nearly 40 years, but the atheist mom contacted a national secular group over her concerns, reported WRCB-TV.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter on behalf of the woman, who asked to remain anonymous in news reports, questioning the constitutionality of the in-school visits.
While some Christian evangelizers come as wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, this wolf comes dressed as a wolf,” the group said in a letter. “’Bible Man’s’ overtly religious and proselytizing messages are explicit.”
Turner leads students in Bible readings, sets up “baby Jesus” displays at school, preaches in sermons that “Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” and distributes religious literature, the group said.
He has also spoken at schools in Alabama, but Tennessee state officials recently promised to end Turner’s visits to elementary schools.
The Grundy County mother said her son, who is an atheist like his parents, was not initially aware the lessons were optional.
“As he got older, it bothered him that he had to sit through this because it’s not his religion,” his mother said.
The school district suspended Bible Man’s visits for now, although administrators hope he will return on a “club schedule” – which would allow students to choose whether to participate.
“I believe the perception was that we’re trying to get rid of him, and that was not the perception we wanted to present,” said Willie Childers, the interim superintendent.
The atheist mother said she has received threats involving her son on Facebook, including a photo of a burning house.
“We don’t want people to be mad — we just want people to make sure there’s an alternative something for the kids to do,” she said.
“We just can’t get over how much hate there is in their loving, Christian hearts,” she added.
Watch this video report by WRCB-TV: