Oklahoma Schools Now Required to Teach the Bible and Have Copies in Classrooms

Jimmy Williams

Oklahoma’s top education official, Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, announced Thursday that all public schools in the state must now teach the Bible and have a copy in every classroom. The new policy, effective immediately, mandates that students from grades five through 12 will study the Bible and the Ten Commandments as part of their curriculum. The directive highlights the “substantial influence” these texts had on the nation’s founders and the principles of the Constitution.

“Immediate and strict compliance is expected,” Walters stated in a memo sent to all school districts. At a state Board of Education meeting, he elaborated, “We’ll be teaching from the Bible in the classroom to ensure that this historical understanding is there for every student in the state of Oklahoma.”

The policy has sparked criticism from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit civil liberties group. Rachel Laser, the group’s CEO, condemned the move, stating, “This is textbook Christian Nationalism: Walters is abusing the power of his public office to impose his religious beliefs on everyone else’s children.” Although the group is “ready to step in,” Laser did not specify whether legal action would be pursued. Her organization is already involved in a lawsuit to block a similar law in Louisiana requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools.

Walters, a former high school history teacher, has gained national attention for his efforts to incorporate Christian beliefs into state education policy. Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, recently approved a set of regulations proposed by Walters that includes time for prayer in schools and an acknowledgment of a “Creator” and the existence of good and evil as part of the state Education Department’s “foundational values.”

Despite his efforts, Walters has faced opposition. This month, Stitt issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from entering sole-source contracts with marketing and public relations firms after Walters hired a firm at $200 per hour to boost his national media presence. Additionally, the state Supreme Court ruled this week that a state contract to fund a Catholic charter school violated both state and federal law, voiding what would have been the nation’s first religious charter school. Walters criticized the ruling as “sanctioned discrimination against Christians” and vowed that “this ruling cannot and must not stand.”

State Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a conservative Republican, praised the court’s decision, calling it “a tremendous victory for religious liberty.” He emphasized, “The framers of the U.S. Constitution and those who drafted Oklahoma’s Constitution clearly understood how best to protect religious freedom: by preventing the State from sponsoring any religion at all.”

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