Oklahoma mandates that the Bible be integrated in classroom instruction 

Bible Credit: joshimerbin/Shutterstock

The Superintendent of Oklahoma schools instructed state districts to incorporate the Bible into middle school and high school curriculum in a Thursday memorandum, citing its historical and cultural significance in helping “contextualize” our nation today.

“The Bible is an indispensable historical and cultural touchstone,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters stated in a Thursday press release shared with CNA. “Without basic knowledge of it, Oklahoma students are unable to properly contextualize the foundation of our nation, which is why Oklahoma educational standards provide for its instruction.”

“This is not merely an educational directive but a crucial step in ensuring our students grasp the core values and historical context of our country,” he added.

The policy was effective immediately and requires all Oklahoma schools to incorporate the Bible and the Ten Commandments as “instructional support” to the curriculum. The directive follows May 2019 education standards, the release noted. 

The move comes after Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, who is Catholic, signed legislation that requires K–12 schools and colleges that receive public funding to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom.

“Oklahoma kids will learn that the Bible and the Ten Commandments are foundational for western civilization. The left is upset, but one cannot rewrite history,” Walters said in a post on X.

The decision is already receiving some pushback, with some arguing that it violates the separation of church and state. The nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has threatened to “take action” against the directive in a post on X.

Walters contends that this initiative will foster cultural and historical literacy among students.

Citing Title 70 of Oklahoma’s education standards, Walters explained in a video announcement on X that the Bible is a “necessary historical document to teach our kids about the history of this country, to have a complete understanding of western civilization, to have an understanding of the basis of our legal system, and is frankly … one of the most foundational documents used for the Constitution and the birth of our country.”

“The Bible is one of the most historically significant books and a cornerstone of Western civilization, along with the Ten Commandments,” the press release read. “They will be referenced as an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like, as well as for their substantial influence on our nation’s founders and the foundational principles of our Constitution.”

Walters called the Bible and Ten Commandments “foundational texts” in the subject line of the June 27 memorandum shared with CNA. The directive applies to grades 5–12, according to the memo.

The memorandum further stated that “adherence to this mandate is compulsory,” noting that there will be “forthcoming” instruction on monitoring and reporting implementation for the 2024-2025 school year. 

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