Effectively Immediately, All Oklahoma Schools Must Incorporate the Ten Commandments and the Bible Into Curriculum

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 28, 2024

The Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Schools, Ryan Walters, passed a motion requiring all public schools in the state to incorporate the Ten Commandments and the Bible into their curriculum.

Walters says the motion is necessary because the Bible is “one of the most foundational documents used for the Constitution and the birth of our country.” The ruling comes just weeks after Louisiana made the same decision to display the Ten Commandments in all public school classrooms.

The Superintendent Thinks the Bible is a Necessary Document

Despite the separation of Church and State in the United States, several school systems around the country teach Christian documents and ideologies.

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“It’s crystal clear to us that in the Oklahoma academic standards under Title 70 on multiple occasions, the Bible is a necessary historical document to teach our kids about the history of this country, to have a complete understanding of Western civilization, to have an understanding of the basis of our legal system,” Walters said.

The Memorandum Follows a Similar Law in Louisiana

On June 19, Louisiana passed a similar law that required all publically funded classrooms, including the university level, to display the Ten Commandments.

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Almost immediately, a group of parents from the state filed a lawsuit contending the legislation. The parents and several civil rights organizations say that the ruling violates US Supreme Court precedents and the First Amendment.

Historical Documents Might Be the Loophole to Allow Bible

Many public schools have a class called World Religions, where students are taught the ideologies of various religions throughout society. Often, Christian teachings are a part of this class.

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Walters released a statement to the press stating that the Bible is a “historical document.” It’s possible that the superintendent’s office is attempting to use the loophole of allowing religious documents as primary sources to force religion into the classroom.

Organizations That Protect Religious Freedoms Are Against the Ruling

A national organization that protects religious freedoms called Interfaith Alliance told CNN that, “This is blatant religious coercion that should have absolutely no place in public schools – in Oklahoma or any other state.”

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They went on to remark that true religious freedom includes ensuring that no dominant group is allowed to force their views on any other group.

Most Parents Will Reject the Ruling

Despite a majority of people in America identifying as Christian or a subset, several civil rights groups think that the majority of Oklahoma parents will disagree with the mandate.

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Interfaith Alliance says that “the vast majority of people of faith in this country reject these dangerous, intimidating efforts to coerce a Christian nationalist agenda into out schools, our courts and our governments.”


First Publicly Funded Religious School Blocked in Oklahoma

The ruling comes at slightly suspicious timing. Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked the first publicly funded religious charter school in the country from being established in the state.

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On Tuesday, the court ordered that the school district must remove its contract with St. Isadore of Seville Catholic Virtue School in a 6-2 decision.


Publicly Funded Christian Schools in Arizona Have Forced Several Public Schools to Close

In Arizona, a similar issue has gone far past its breaking point. Backed by billionaire and former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the state introduced vouchers for property taxes. Parents of school kids can choose where their property tax money gets sent to.

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Because of the choice, one school benefited more than $2 million in funding while several public schools were forced to close. Now, a small portion of kids in Arizona get to enjoy ultra-modern classrooms, pickle ball courts, and gourmet lunches, while the majority of students whose parents can’t afford private tuition must travel to the few open schools left in the area.


Walters Is Now Fighting back Against the Court

The superintendent said that the state Supreme Court’s decision to block a publically funded Catholic school was one of the “worst” decisions it has made.

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He also pledged to fight back against what he sees as an unfair ruling.


The Superintendent’s Argument To Allow Public Funds To Go towards a Religious School

The Superintendent argued that the new Catholic charter schools should be publically funded because they are, in essence, public schools.

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He says that “What the court did was rule against the parents of Oklahoma who have demanded more choices for their kids. We have a great opportunity to make sure that parents have the most options of any parents in the country here in Oklahoma, by giving them the ability to go to a public school, charter schools, private schools, this would have been the most unique charter school in the country.”


Are Charter Schools Public Schools?

Charter and public schools receive funds from local and state governments and property taxes.

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However, they differ in several key aspects. Firstly, charter schools have more freedom as they are not a part of a specific district. They choose their own dates for days off and tests and operate autonomously though individual agreements (or charters) with state governments.


It's Unclear What Classrooms Will Teach For now

Until more information is given to local teachers, it’s unclear what will be taught in schools.

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It’s also unclear if parents will be allowed to opt their children out of that aspect of the curriculum, citing religious reasons.