Breaking: FFRF will combat Okla. Supt. Walters’ religion-in-school schemes


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is vowing to take action to stop Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters from forcing the bible and the Ten Commandments into Oklahoma’s public schools.

Walters sent a memo to state school districts today ordering them to incorporate the bible “as an instructional support into the curriculum” for grades five through 12, calling the mandate “compulsory.” Walters announced that he is “requiring” the bible, which he falsely claimed is “one of the most foundational documents used for the Constitution and the birth of our country,” to be taught in state classrooms: “Effective immediately, all Oklahoma schools are required to incorporate the Bible, which includes the Ten Commandments, as an instructional support into the curriculum across specified grade levels.”

Walters issued this fiat the same week FFRF and a coalition of groups sued Louisiana over its unconstitutional new law mandating that the Ten Commandments must be displayed in every Louisiana public classroom from kindergarten through college.

FFRF, a national state/church watchdog, has written Walters many times over the past few years over his intemperate, theocratic pronouncements and actions. Walters has often criticized FFRF for its work to protect the freedom of conscience of public school students, calling it a “radical atheist group” last fall after FFRF’s complaint halted prayer broadcasts in Oklahoma’s Prague school district. FFRF has called Walters a Christian nationalist and continually urged him to resign “due to repeated misuse of his office to promote religion public schools in disregard of his constitutional obligations.” At one point, after FFRF complained over a Tulsa Public School Board member praying at a school graduation, Walters defended her and threatened the district’s accreditation for agreeing to stop future such prayers.

Earlier this year, FFRF urged an Oklahoma school district to ban the superintendent from its schools after he led elementary students in prayer. FFRF previously urged Walters to resign after throwing his support to the unconstitutional Catholic virtual charter school scheme, which FFRF is suing over and which, in a separate case taken by the state attorney general, the Oklahoma Supreme Court just ruled unconstitutional. Walters has baselessly threatened FFRF with legal action for protesting such First Amendment violations as morning prayer hosted by public schools.

As FFRF pointed out to Walters many times, he took an oath of office to “support, obey, and defend the secular Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the state of Oklahoma,” not to promote the bible or his personal religious beliefs. The U.S. Constitution is a secular, godless document whose only references to religion are exclusionary, such as its prohibition of any religious test for public office. The First Amendment prohibits the state from establishing religion, and case law has long protected a captive audience of schoolchildren from religious proselytization by public schools. Walters might try reading the Constitution — and he will discover for himself that there is no god, no bible, no Ten Commandments mentioned in our foundational document.

State education exists to cultivate the minds of young students and promote independent thinking, in short to educate, not indoctrinate. The state Department of Public Instruction is a public entity and must respect the First Amendment rights of Oklahoma’s students.

“Walters’ concern should be the fact that Oklahoma ranks 49th in education,” comments FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “Maybe education would improve if Oklahoma’s superintendent of education spent his time promoting education, instead of religion.”

FFRF says it will be pursuing any necessary steps to protect student rights of conscience in Oklahoma public schools.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 40,000 members across the country, including hundreds in Oklahoma. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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