It’s something parents ask every day before their child leaves for school: “Did you remember your books?”
On Thursday, October 4, many parents will add, “Don’t forget your Bible!”
Thursday is Bring Your Bible to School Day, an idea spearheaded by the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based organization Focus on the Family.
More than half a million students are predicted to participate. “The annual student-led event, now in its fifth year, provides a unique opportunity for young people to share about their faith by highlighting it source — the Bible, ” notes Focus on the Family’s website.
Is this legal? It’s a good question today. Hardly any 24-hour news cycle goes by without a report of some group or other threatening a school over a faith-based initiative. Still, Focus on the Family’s director of education issues, Candi Cushman, says students “absolutely” have the right to take a Bible to school.
“Federal courts have repeatedly upheld public school students’ rights to bring their Bibles to school, to distribute Bibles at school, and to discuss the Bible at school during free periods or outside of instruction time,” Cushman told LifeZette. “Kids can learn more about their rights by clicking on the “Know Your Rights” section at BringYourBible.org.
While students are encouraged to “bring it, share it, live it,” Bring Your Bible to School Day also encourages parents to be involved.
“We’re hearing from students and their families about how kids were being told they couldn’t read their Bible during free time at school, or that they should hide their Bible away in a locker room because it might offend someone, and we were also seeing that feedback being echoed in the national headlines,” said Cushman.
If a child is participating in Bring Your Bible to School Day, Focus on the Family recommends parents talk to school officials to let them know.
“You can explain that your child is participating in a religious-freedom event and that they are planning to do so in a respectful and peaceful manner, and in a way that does not disturb instruction time,” noted Cushman.
If and when school officials have questions, Focus on the Family asks parents to provide officials with its legal memo from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) that explains students’ rights to participate.
“You can read the Bring Your Bible to School Day FAQs [Frequently Asked Questions] to prepare yourself for other questions that may arise,” said Cushman.
Focus on the Family also encourages participants to share its parent/pastor guide with their senior pastor, youth leader and children’s minister. A bulletin insert and other materials are available online, as well as a video of Sadie Robertson, the 2018 Bring Your Bible to School Day honorary chair, for churches to play before big day.
“Be bold,” she urges in the video. “Don’t be afraid.”
Focus on the Family may sponsor the event, but the organization credits children, such as a teen identified only as “Isabella,” a 13-year-old public school student in Minnesota, for leading the charge. About 20 students joined Isabella for the event at her school last year.
“This is a new thing for me because at our school, it’s not normal to see kids praying or doing that type of stuff,” said the teen. “People keep it to themselves if they do pray, so this is a very public thing for us to do.”
“Ethan” (last name also not given), a 16-year-old student in Colorado, sees it as an opportunity to have more conversations about God with his peers.
“I’ve had a lot more people ask me questions about my faith and what I believe,” he said. “It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for ongoing conversations.”
Some people reading this may still question why students should even read the Bible today. To hear some critics tell it, God’s Holy Word is just a collection of chapters “written thousands of years ago over a period of centuries.”
The answer is as clear as it is multi-layered. “In addition to providing cherished, life-changing spiritual guidance for millions of lives, the Bible is an extremely important historical document that is cited in many influential pieces of literature,” Cushman told LifeZette. “So if students really want to grow as knowledgeable, educated people, it’s important to know about the Bible.”
Michael King, director of community alliances at the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI), agreed with that.
“In a culture that is constantly redefining truth, it is essential that the timeless truth of the Bible is established in the hearts and minds of our young people,” he told LifeZette. “As Martin Luther King Jr. so powerfully said, the body of Christ is not the tool or slave of the state, but the conscience. We have a prophetic duty to study and proclaim God’s truth, in love, openly, and that’s an important we can teach our children through initiatives like Bring Your Bible to School Day.”
King said his organization would love to see 100 percent of public schools in Massachusetts and the nation with a Bible study before, during, or after school.
“Unfortunately, our schools often promote ideas and ideologies that are in direct opposition to the clear teaching of the Bible on issues of life, marriage, and even what it means to be made male and female in God’s image,” he continued. “If our young people are going to be challenged like that, let’s make sure they at least have the opportunity to share God’s word with each other and their classmates at school.”
See more on this initiative in the video below.
Chris Woodward is a reporter for American Family News and OneNewsNow.com from Tupelo, Mississippi.