Tennessee pagans claim religion lies behind daughter’s mistreatment at school

AP, Feb. 20, 2003

MAYNARDVILLE, Tenn. (AP)–A couple that practices paganism has sued Union County, claiming school officials tried to have their daughter participate in Christian services and failed to stop others from harassing her.

Greg and Sarajane Tracy say daughter India, now 14 and attending a private school, was expected to join religious activities but denied the right to exercise her own faith. They also claim the school district failed to protect her from physical and verbal abuse.

The $300,000 lawsuit says India was sent to the principal’s office after she declined to portray the virgin Mary in a Christmas play and was harassed after she didn’t join other students being bused to an after-school evangelistic rally, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported.

The lawsuit also alleges that India was required to attend Bible classes during the school day, was urged to lead her class in prayer and was told by a teacher to “keep quiet because you’ll get in trouble” after she wrote a paper about religious freedom.

School Director James Pratt declined comment.

The Pagan Federation says its faith embraces kinship with nature and acknowledges both the female and male sides of divinity.

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