Focus on the Family is urging students across the nation to participate in the annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Thursday, October 6th. The event is designed to empower students to share God’s Word with their peers and celebrate their religious freedoms.
It is estimated that approximately 150,000 students participated in the event last year. Focus on the Family is working to double that number for 2016. Students from kindergarten to the college level are urged to participate.
“‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’ was created to equip and inspire students to be a voice of hope and express their Biblical beliefs in a loving, Christ-centered way,” says Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family.
Daly says the event is also intended to help students understand the nature of their religious freedoms in public school settings. “Students don’t lose their religious freedoms when they arrive at school in the morning,” Daly says. “The First Amendment recognizes the rights of students to talk about their faith in school and read their Bible outside classroom time.”
Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, says that one of the quickest ways to lose our freedom to share about God’s love is to stop using our constitutional free speech rights. “In recent years, we’ve noticed an increase in news headlines about students being told they can’t engage in simple religious-freedom activities, such as reading their Bible personally during free time or praying during lunch. That’s why it is so important to come alongside our students and encourage them that they do still have religious freedoms protected under the U.S. Constitution–and they don’t have to be ashamed of or hide their deeply held religious beliefs.”
It has been clear for some time that many school officials and teachers are under the false understanding that the so-called “separation of church and state” requires a ban on religious activity or religious discussion in public schools. This distortion of the First Amendment Establishment Clause has been reinforced by atheist organizations like the Freedom from Religion Foundation who threaten school administrators if they do not stifle religious speech.
The truth is that the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment applies to public school students as well. Federal courts have consistently ruled that students are free to share their religious viewpoints and engage in religious activity in the public school arena so long as their actions are not coerced or sponsored by public school officials.
The State of Missouri has even more explicit constitutional protections for student religious freedom. Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2012 that outlines in specific terms the free exercise rights of public school students. It states that schools must ensure that students have the “right to free exercise of religious expression without interference.” It also specifies students may express their beliefs about religion in written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their work.
Cushman says that the “Bring Your Bible” event provides students with a unique opportunity to be cultural and spiritual leaders. “In the Bible, it’s often young people who lead the way for the rest of their culture by providing an example of spiritual boldness and taking a courageous stand for their belief in God. We see this in the books of Daniel and Esther, which tell the stories of a young man and woman, who despite their youth, had the courage to share God’s truth and love with an unbelieving culture. Their action had a huge impact–even on nonbelievers–for generations to come.”
Cushman says that today’s students should take their spiritual cue from the Scripture contained in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Focus on the Family has an excellent website with numerous resources for students, parents, and churches in connection with “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” There you will find posters, bulletin inserts, social media graphics, and promotional videos that can be shown during church service or to church youth groups.
You can access all these resources by using this link:
Bring Your Bible to School
“We hope this event will remind students that the Bible is something that should be celebrated, not banned–and has a powerful message of hope and love for humanity,” Cushman concludes. “We pray that students will be encouraged to have a redemptive impact in their schools.”