State Lawmakers Push Back Against New Bible Requirement In Oklahoma Schools

After State Superintendent Ryan Walters said Bibles will be required in Oklahoma classrooms, state lawmakers are pushing back.

Wednesday, July 3rd 2024, 5:45 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger


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When classes start up in August, State Superintendent Ryan Walters says Bibles will be required in Oklahoma classrooms. But some state lawmakers are questioning how this will be enforced, and why the superintendent is making this move now. 

“Every teacher, every classroom in the state, will have a Bible in the classroom and will be teaching from the Bible in the classroom,” said Walters last week.

“Just another day, and another day of frustration,” said the State Representative Forrest Bennett (D-District 92).

Bennett is raising a list of questions over the state superintendent's new requirement of having Bibles in state schools.

“It's not a law, it's not an order, it's just a memo,” said Bennett. “Who is going to be policing and ensuring the Bible is there?”

Beyond questioning the constitutionality and enforcement of the new idea, Bennett really wants to know why now.

In 2019, when Ryan Walters was a teacher in McAlester, he was part of a board that reviewed the social studies standards for all Oklahoma schools.

“That was the time where a teacher in a classroom could be saying well I think we need to put the Bible in school and I think we need to teach Christianity in school,” said Bennett.

Instead Walters wrote a letter to lawmakers, expressing his satisfaction with the standards at the time. Walters said at one point “all concerns were addressed appropriately” adding that he was “pleased with the final result.”

“It begs the question which has an easy answer, the question being: What changed from then to now?, and the answer being: he's doing this to gain political points and get on Fox news and other national conservative networks,” said Rep. Bennett.

Walters has had at least four national news appearances to discuss his new Bible mandate.

“It had the desired effect for him because he is getting all the attention he wants on it,” said Rep. Bennett.

In a statement, State Superintendent Ryan Walters said: “That letter was written with the understanding that the Bible was part of Oklahoma academic standards and would be used to make sure our students had a solid understanding of American history and culture. In the years since, thanks to Joe Biden, the teachers unions, and their enablers, the Bible has been pushed out of our schools completely. I’m proud to bring it back.”

Bennett says he’s hoping to shift the attention back to Oklahoma students, parents and teachers.  

“It's a scary, slippery slope,” said Rep. Bennett.

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