Oklahoma Superintendent Mandates Bible Instruction in Public Schools

(PatriotWise.com) — Republican State Superintendent of Oklahoma Ryan Walters, the state’s leading education official, has ordered Oklahoma’s public schools to include the Bible in lessons from the fifth grade to the twelfth grade. The announcement on June 27 marks the latest conservative effort to reinforce religious education in classrooms.

Walters stated in a video posted on his X account that the Bible is a foundational document for western history and civilization and that it is necessary to teach children about the Bible and its ten commandments. He added that all teachers should have bibles in their classrooms.

The directive sent out to the state’s superintendents stresses that it is mandatory, and that it expects “strict” and “immediate” compliance. Even some of Christianity’s harshest critics, such as evolutionary biologist and vocal atheist Richard Dawkins, have approved of the Bible being included in public education to teach children about its impact on western culture, history, and literature.

In Utah, however, Republicans adopted a different approach, and banned the King James Bible from elementary schools in June 2023 because of the “vulgarity and violence” it contains. One parent reportedly cited a 2022 book-ban law when she claimed the Bible contained “no serious values” of interest to minors.

Opposition to mandatory Bible education is more common among Democrats. Democratic State Representative for Texas, James Talarico, condemned a move to force schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms in 2023, calling it “un-American.” Talarico also claimed Senate Bill 1515 was “un-Christian.”

Walters’ directive prompted lawsuits from civil liberty groups only days after it was enforced. Lawsuits claimed that the law violated the separation of the state and the church, and that such mandatory measures isolate students, especially those who are not Christians.

Schools are under pressure from conservatives to reintroduce education in the Bible and ban books discussing gender identity, sexual orientation, and race. Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has recently blocked the state’s efforts to establish the country’s first state-funded religious charter school.

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