Fox News host Tucker Carlson faced-off against atheist activist Dan Barker on Thursday night, with Carlson calling Barker “a bully who runs a highly aggressive interest group” and with both men challenging whether the other has ever read the First Amendment.
The on-air clash centered around the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s recent complaint that led a Tennessee school district to shut down a before-school Bible study meeting for elementary school students. The morning gathering was reportedly run by teachers and school district staff — something Barker said was an improper constitutional violation.
Barker, the atheist organization’s co-president, defended both the complaint and the school’s decision to shut the club down.
“They decided to stop the illegal bible club being led by teachers,” Barker told Carlson, “The school did the right thing.”
But Carlson said that he believes Barker simply “bullied them into it” and challenged why the FFRF believes a before-school gathering is a violation of the First Amendment. Barker, of course, was ready and willing to engage in that battle.
“There’s a difference between free speech and government speech,” he said. “When those teachers are at the school, they are the government … there are families who wish to protect their children from the depravity and the violence that’s in the Bible.”
Barker said these families don’t believe that the school “should be taking sides on such a personal religious issue.” But Carlson hit back by again noting that the Bible study was optional and that it unfolded before the school day started.
“People have a right to express their religious views. That’s enshrined in the First Amendment,” Carlson said. “You don’t forfeit your First Amendment rights or any of your constitutional rights just because you work for the government.”
At one point, a flabbergasted Carlson flatly asked Barker, “Have you read the First Amendment?”
Watch Carlson and Barker face-off below:
As Faithwire previously reported, the Altruria Bible Club was an elective gathering that met at Altruria Elementary School in Bartlett, Tennessee, before classes commenced. Meetings have been paused due to illegal claims by the FFRF.
The secular group sent a letter to the Bartlett City Schools imploring the district to be sure no teachers or staff are participating in the morning gatherings and stated that these adults’ presence would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Read more about the dispute here.
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