State Superintendent Ryan Walters has mandated that Oklahoma schools integrate the Bible into their curriculum, marking a new cultural flashpoint over religion in US classrooms.

In a directive issued by Republican State Superintendent Ryan Walters, schools are required to incorporate the Bible into lessons immediately. Walters emphasized the necessity of "strict compliance" with this new rule, which applies to all public school students aged 11 to 18.

This move comes shortly after Louisiana's governor signed a law mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in all public schools in that state.

In a statement, Walters referred to the Bible as "an indispensable historical and cultural touchstone," asserting that Oklahoma students need a fundamental understanding of it to fully grasp the foundations of the nation. Walters, a former public school history teacher, was elected in 2022 on a platform focused on combating "woke ideology" and removing "radical leftists" from Oklahoma's education system.

The directive, which applies to grades five through twelve, has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights organizations and groups advocating for the separation of church and state. Rachel Laser, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, stated, "Public schools are not Sunday schools." She condemned Walters' directive as "textbook Christian Nationalism," accusing him of using his public office to impose his religious beliefs on students.

Walters has argued that secularists have established a state religion of atheism by excluding faith from the public sphere. In a Fox News op-ed last year, he criticized President Joe Biden and teachers' unions for replacing biblical values with "woke, anti-education values" that promote racial and sexual differentiation among students and expose them to graphic sexual content at a young age.

The Interfaith Alliance, a group that advocates for religious freedom, described Walters' directive as "blatant religious coercion," emphasizing that true religious freedom means preventing any one religious group from imposing its views on all Americans.

This directive follows Louisiana's recent order for all classrooms, including universities, to display the Ten Commandments. This law has already led to legal challenges, with nine families suing the state, arguing that such a mandate violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion by pressuring students to adopt the state's favored religion.

Legal battles over the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings have a history, with the Supreme Court's 1980 ruling in Stone v. Graham striking down a Kentucky law that required the commandments to be displayed in schools. The Court's decision highlighted that the law lacked a secular legislative purpose and was inherently religious, citing references to worshipping God. This precedent is expected to be pivotal in the ongoing legal contestations against the Louisiana law. Photo by NYC Wanderer (Kevin Eng), Wikimedia commons.