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Oklahoma officials move to require Bible be taught in public schools

A memorandum from State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced lessons on the Bible would be added to the foundational texts in school curriculum.
Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters leads group of officials with the Oklahoma State Board of Education
Posted at 3:06 PM, Jun 27, 2024

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma school superintendents received a memorandum from State Superintendent Ryan Walters instructing them to add lessons on the Bible to the foundational texts in the state's school curriculum.

The memo said Oklahoma schools must incorporate the Christian holy text, including the Ten Commandments, as instructional support in teaching curriculum.

Walters said the directive would be in alignment with the educational standards approved in 2019, and ordered all districts to comply, Scripps News Tulsa reported.

The note to officials said, "The Bible is an indispensable historical and cultural touchstone."

Walters said, “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."

He said, "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."

Walters told schools in the state the Bible is one of the most historically significant books and a cornerstone of Western civilization, along with the Ten Commandments.

Education officials in Oklahoma said the text should be referenced as an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, and comparative religion — including the influence on the nation's founders and the U.S. constitution.

Officials with Oklahoma Department of Education said the state agency may supply religious materials to ensure uniformity across schools it controls.

Senator Mary Boren said in a statement she was denied access by the State Board of Education writing, "failing to comply with the Open Meetings Act nullifies the actions of the Oklahoma State Board of Education and invites judicial scrutiny"

A law requiring that classrooms in Louisiana display the Ten Commandments is being challenged in court.

This story was originally published by Matthew Hubbard at Scripps News Tulsa.