Oklahoma's Own In Focus: Reaction, Analysis Of Bible Requirement In Oklahoma Public Schools

Oklahoma State Superintendent, Ryan Walters announced a new requirement for Oklahoma public schools that requires the use of the bible in its curriculum. News On 6 took an In Focus look at the new requirement.

Thursday, June 27th 2024, 10:12 pm



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Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced a new requirement for Oklahoma public schools that requires the use of the Bible in its curriculum. 

He sent the memorandum to all Oklahoma school districts Thursday. 

"Every teacher, every classroom in the state, will have a Bible in the classroom and will be teaching from the Bible in the classroom to ensure that this historical understanding is there for every student in the state of Oklahoma," Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters said.

He calls the Bible a foundational text for Western Civilization and a historical document similar to the constitution that should be part of lesson plans.

Walters says the state department of education may also give Bible teaching materials to schools to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says Oklahoma law already explicitly allows Bibles in the classroom and enables teachers to use them for teaching.

However, the new rule *requires​* schools to incorporate the Bible in their curriculum.

News On 6 spoke with parents and grandparents in Green Country about State Superintendent Ryan Walter's latest memo to put a bible in every classroom, and for teachers to incorporate the Bible in their curriculum. 

One mother says this will cause several issues for families of other religions, teachers, and taxpayers.

Amy Tate has a one-and-a-half-year-old son and she says she doesn't want anyone teaching him about Christianity in a non-inclusive way.

She says she plans to send her son, Henry, to a public school in Oklahoma because it's designed to be inclusive.

"That's why there are private schools because if you would like your children to learn about religion in the classroom there are options for that. But a public school is supposed to be inclusive. That's part of free education," Tate said.

Amy says forcing teachers to make the Bible a part of their curriculum could put them in a tough spot if a student asks a complex cultural question.

"You would be caught in the middle of a parent-teacher-student triangle if you don't answer these questions correctly the way a parent wants you to answer them," Tate said.

She says she has no problem with her son learning about religious texts concerning American History, one example being how it influenced the founding fathers. But she doesn't want the Christian Bible to be preached.

"I think they should also know slavery was part of our founding fathers' background as well, but it doesn't mean we should continue teaching that as if it were something as a good thing," Tate said.

Bob Rafferty is a grandfather of two, and he agrees the Bible is a part of U.S. history but worries this is a step backward for public education. 

"We decided back in 1980 with political correctness that we weren't going to have church and state in our schools," Rafferty said. "Because if in fact we do, do that then we are going to have many lawsuits with other religions trying to get into our schools."

Both Amy and Bob also say they have a lot of questions about how this is going to go, including what version of the Bible will be required, and how a math or science teacher is supposed to incorporate the Bible in their lesson plans.

Some Democratic state lawmakers say they're concerned the new directive might break state law.

Oklahomans rejected State Question 790 in 2016, which would have repealed a section of state law that prohibits using state money for religious purposes. About 57 percent of voters voted No on changing that law.

The State Department of Education says the new directive takes effect immediately. Several groups have already vowed to sue against the rules.

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