Oklahoma ‘immediately’ requires schools to teach the Bible: ‘Strict compliance is expected’

Oklahoma’s chief school official has notified all state schools to “immediately” incorporate the Bible into classroom curriculum, drawing immediate outrage and threats of lawsuits in a state that was recently reprimanded for trying to use taxpayer dollars to create a Catholic school.

“Effective immediately, all Oklahoma schools are required to incorporate the Bible, which includes the Ten Commandments, as an instructional support into the curriculum” in grades 5 through 12, according to the notice from Republican school superintendent Ryan Walters.

“The Bible is one of the most historically significant books and a cornerstone of Western civilization, along with the Ten Commandments,” the notice reads.

In a press conference on Thursday, Walters said that every school “will have a Bible in the classroom,” and that every teacher “will be teaching from the Bible in the classroom.”

The Bible “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,” according to the memo.

“Adherence to this mandate is compulsory” and “immediate and strict compliance is expected,” it reads.

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

Oklahoma school superintendent Ryan Walters is mandating all schools teach the Bible in grades 5-12. (AP)
Oklahoma school superintendent Ryan Walters is mandating all schools teach the Bible in grades 5-12. (AP)

Thursday’s directive comes two days after the state’s highest court rejected what was set to become the first-ever publicly funded religious charter school.

Last year, a state school board approved the creation of a taxpayer-supported online Catholic school, triggering a high-profile legal battle to decide whether public funds can be used to create religious schools.

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court called it an unconstitutional “slippery slope” infringement of the First Amendment’s protections against the government’s endorsement of a religion.

“The framers’ intent is clear,” the court’s majority wrote. “The State is prohibited from using public money for the ‘use, benefit or support of a sect or system of religion.’”

Americans United for Separation of Church, which sued the state to block the school’s contract, has threatened to sue again over the state’s Bible requirement.

“Public schools are not Sunday schools,” the group’s CEO Rachel Laser said in a statement shared with The Independent.

Walter has “repeatedly made clear that he is incapable of distinguishing the difference and is unfit for office,” Laser added. “His latest scheme — to mandate use of the Bible in Oklahoma public schools’ curriculum — is a transparent, unconstitutional effort to indoctrinate and religiously coerce public school students.”

Laser warned that the state’s latest gambit is “textbook Christian nationalism” and part of a wave of right-wing threats to public education, according to Laster.

The group has also joined a federal lawsuit in Louisiana to block the state from requiring the Ten Commandments in every public classroom.