Okla. State Superintendent: Teach Kids in School about Morality, Not Woke Ideology
Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters recently said that kids would be a lot better off if they would just read the Bible instead of the woke ideology they’re currently being indoctrinated with. On “Washington Watch” July 26, Walters highlighted some recommendations he received from the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Founding Principles. The recommendations are:
- Enforce the existing state statute to hold a minute of silence at the beginning of the school day with the following announcement: “We now pause for a minute of silence in which students and teachers may use this minute to reflect, meditate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity.”
- Display a “durable poster or framed copy” of the Ten Commandments in each public school classroom.
- Require a “Western Civilization” course for graduation “to strengthen the heritage which was integral to the nation’s founding and its western culture, as well as to foster gratitude and informed citizenship.”
Not surprisingly, those on the political Left are outraged by these recommendations. For example, Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, said, “This is all about dumbing down our nation, discouraging children from free access to information — much less reading” and has called for Walters’s resignation.
Gaylor’s reaction reveals her own lack of knowledge of our country’s history and founding. America’s Founders held rigorous discussions and debate about the role of religion in the new democratic republic, many having studied the relationship between church and state. They wanted to ensure that too much power was not vested in the state (government) nor that too much power was given to any religion. As a result of their study and debate, the Founders added the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1791, writing, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
While most Americans understand that the United States should not have an established “national” religion, many on the Left forget about the First Amendment’s declaration that the government must not prohibit the free exercise of any person’s religion. The Founders believed this and practiced this. In fact, according to the Library of Congress:
“Within a year of his inauguration, [President Thomas] Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson’s example… Worship services in the House — a practice that continued until after the Civil War — were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting- style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a ‘crowded audience.’ Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers. … In attending church services on public property, Jefferson and Madison consciously and deliberately were offering symbolic support to religion as a prop for republican government.”
Family Research Council’s senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement, Joseph Backholm, explained, “The Bible isn’t simply a religious text, it’s also the most significant piece of literature ever written. It has been the best-selling book in the world every year since we started counting. You don’t have to believe it is inspired by God to recognize the impact it has had on the world, and someone who wants to be educated should have some understanding of the most significant book ever written. Especially in America, the Bible has tremendous educational value, and any serious attempts to be educated should include at least some understanding of the Bible and the influence it has had on western civilization.”
Until fairly recently, American children in most schools were required to memorize the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and have a basic understanding of what is in the Bible, such as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. However, that expectation has slowly eroded and, along with it, an appreciation for the great American experiment and the unique blessings and opportunities it affords. In addition, if America’s citizens continue to lose knowledge of what is in the Constitution and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, we are much more likely to lose the freedoms the Constitution upholds and ultimately be controlled by powerful tyrants.
Allowing schools to have a minute of silence, display the Ten Commandments, and have a “Western Civilization” course does not mean that children should not learn about other religions and worldviews (as they already are). On the contrary, these steps are simply ensuring that children are not only learning about international religions and cultures, but about their own culture and history as well. For if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.
Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s senior fellow for Education Studies, finds it encouraging to know that there are strong leaders such as Superintendent Walters who are working to reintroduce the Bible and natural law into schools:
“Leaders like State Superintendent Walters are a wonderful sign of hope for parents concerned about the direction and quality of public education. We should express our appreciation for leaders like him as forcefully as we express our objections to leaders who seek to indoctrinate students instead of educating them. We live in the greatest nation on earth, and our children deserve the very best education. Let’s pray for more leaders, teachers, principals, administrators, and counselors like Ryan Walters who can deliver the kind of high-quality education that instills hope, wisdom, courage, and love in each student under their charge.”
***If you are interested in teaching your children an accurate knowledge of American history and western civilization, the following are some helpful resources: Former House and Urban Development secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, has created Little Patriots, a free online learning platform that helps you teach kids K-5 American history, civics lessons, and our nation’s values at home. Other helpful resources are provided by former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, Prager University, and WallBuilders.