Secular education campaigners have faced a significant setback in their legal fight to ban the Bible from public schools.

The High Court in Auckland is hearing a case between a parent and his child's former primary school over its Bible in Schools programme.

The Secular Education Network and the Human Rights Commission asked to be part of the case, making it a test case for religion in schools.

Network spokesman David Hines said they have been allowed to join the case but won't be allowed to submit additional evidence to the court.

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He said that prevents them from covering issues such as Christian education in high schools and objections from other religions.

Lawyers have spent the morning trying to convince Judge Peter Wylie it's a good idea to have one hearing instead of two.