Oklahoma state superintendent directs schools to incorporate Bible, Ten Commandments in teaching

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced Thursday all public schools under his jurisdiction should be incorporating the Bible and Ten Commandments into their curriculum.

“The Bible is one of the most historically significant books and a cornerstone of Western civilization, along with the Ten Commandments. 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 wrote in a memorandum to schools that says the Bible must be a part of the curriculum for students in fifth through 12th grades.

“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,” the memo added.

School superintendents were told more information would be forthcoming on monitoring this directive for the 2024-25 school year and that the Education Department could help by providing materials on the subject.

Walters’s action was immediately criticized by opponents who see it as just another way to blur the lines between church and state.

“Public schools are not Sunday schools. Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters has repeatedly made clear that he is incapable of distinguishing the difference and is unfit for office. 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,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The directive comes one week after Louisiana’s governor signed a law requiring posters of the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom, a move that was quickly met with lawsuits from civil liberties organizations, including Laser’s.

On Tuesday in Oklahoma, the state’ Supreme Court struck down the nation’s first religious charter school as unconstitutional, receiving criticism from Walters.

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