Oklahoma Schools Chief Denies Pushing Religion On Students

As we previously discussed here, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters just ordered all schools to teach the Bible as part of the curricula in grades five through twelve.

Walters made an appearance on CNN this Tuesday and was asked about the mandate by host Pamela Brown, and Brown wasn’t buying his arguments.

Brown asked Walters about the fact that the Bible “includes beheading, rape and incest” and whether or not he supported “includes beheading, rape, and incest,” and was treated to a diatribe about how he only supports “teaching children our history accurately” before railing on about teachers’ unions, the “radical left,” and pretending you can’t teach history accurately without including God.

Brown noted that Walters didn’t answer her question and corrected a statement he made about Jefferson. He reminded Walters that Thomas Jefferson “advocated for freedom of religion actually, not the establishment of a religion for one,” before again asking Walters if he was okay with “all teachings of the Bible.”

After claiming that the Bible “was the best-selling book in American history,” Walters again refused to answer her question, and Brown again pressed him on how “teachers supposed to know what of the Bible to teach and what of the Bible not to teach” given the fact that the Bible includes pornographic material, something Walters has come out against, and was met with this hostile response.

WALTERS: Yes. Let me be crystal clear. The Bible is not on the same plane as gender, queer, and flamer. These are pornography. The Bible is a book that was referenced throughout American history.

We have academic standards that tell are teachers that you are to talk about the Bible in reference to the Mayflower Compact. Let her do “From a Birmingham Jail,” the Declaration of Independence.

So these are all very clear — it’s very clear from primary sources that these individuals are referencing history. In our history, they referenced the Bible. So look, when it’s historically accurate, we’re absolutely going to include that. I mean, think about how absurd it would be to teach about the Pilgrims if you don’t mention their intention for moving to the New World. It’s crucial.

And we’re not going to allow the radical left to continue to push a false history on our kids that said that faith played no role. Well, just read the history. It’s clearly there.

Brown reminded Walters that “God is not mentioned in the Constitution. It is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but not a Christian God, right? All it says is, “All men are created equal.” And one would argue it’s not creating a stature of, if you’re a Christian, you believe in the Bible, you are of a higher stature,” before again trying to pin Walters down on how teachers are supposed to know what is and is not acceptable to teach in the classrooms.

WALTERS: The clarity comes in our academic standards. Again, when you have examples in history where individuals referenced the Bible, our kids are going to hear about the Bible.

When you have examples in history where people literally cite Bible verses in presidential speech, our kids are going to understand that context.

So you continue to put the Bible on the same moral plain as gender, queer and flame or — and pornography. It’s not.

It is the best-selling book in American history. There has been no more widespread book that’s been read in American history more than the Bible.

If you don’t have that in a classroom, in a history course, in a literature course, you are not teaching the students the story of America. So it has to be included.

And people can be offended by that, people can not like it, but they can’t rewrite our history.

Brown asked Walters what his response is to those saying “this is a violation of the separation of church and state principle in the Constitution. You have the Establishment Clause and you have the forbidding of religious tests for a public-office holder, and that God is not in the Constitution. And that this country was actually founded on the belief of freedom of religion, not the establishment of religion.”

Walters accused anyone against his mandate of trying “to censor the Bible out of our schools is to create our schools to be state-sponsored atheist centers.”

Brown reminded him that Supreme Court precedent is against what he’s doing, and that “in 1980, there was a Supreme Court case saying that it’s unconstitutional to, for example, put the Ten Commandments in the classroom,” and what he says to critics who have accused him of “trying to impose your religious beliefs, your Christian religious beliefs on the students and teachers of Oklahoma.”

Walters fell back once again to the argument that they’re just trying to teach history, and “not pushing a religion on students” or “telling them that they have to be of a certain faith” but instead “teaching our history in an inaccurate way,” before praising Trump for “actually put Originalists on the Supreme Court.”

Brown responded that “we will have to see about that” before noting that “one could argue, if you’re an Originalist, you would look at the Establishment Clause and look at the banning of religious test for office holders.”

Brown wrapped things up saying it’s “not to take one side or the other,” but to instead “challenge different points of view.” It absolutely is her job to let her audience know how dangerous this man’s views and his actions are. She did a decent job of pushing back at his nonsense, but this was a ridiculous way to finish the interview, pretending it’s not alright to call out these Christofascists who are taking over our government.

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