The state superintendent of public schools in Oklahoma unapologetically says there is no better history book than the Bible because there is another “state religion” called atheism competing for the minds of children in the classroom.
Ryan Walters, a former history teacher, intends for his state’s students to have that knowledge despite hair-pulling panic from the Far Left over his actions.
His anti-woke stance that has made some people uncomfortable: The Oklahoman, the largest newspaper in the state, calls him a “polarizing figure in state politics.”
Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group that opposes faith in the public square, called for Walters to resign this week. His crime was publicly supporting a Tulsa school board member who was reprimanded by the school district after praying at graduation. That reprimand came after FFRF complained.
In the 2022 election for state superintendent, the Republican handily won 58%-43% over his opponent with a promise to push back on far-left indoctrination in the public school classroom.
Walters has stopped short of issuing Bibles to Oklahoma students but he’s passionate – and creative – about helping students learn the values that are in the best-selling book. Oklahoma schools right now have sixty seconds of silence each day. Students can pray, meditate or sit silently.
Walters sees that quiet minute as critical in student development.
“Our kids need to understand that we protect that minute because faith is important to Oklahomans, to Americans, and we protect that minute so that you can exercise your religious beliefs. It is very important in our country’s history and it’s important today,” he said on Washington Watch on Wedneseday.
“Look at things like the 10 commandments. The basis of so many of our laws in Western civilization come from that understanding of the Ten Commandments, come from these Biblical principles. Look at things that we talk about just in character development, like the golden rule. Well, the golden rule came from scripture,” Walters told show host Tony Perkins.
Critics of allowing faith in a classroom demand the separation of church and state, Walters said, but the federal government’s zeal for removing all references to God has in fact created a state-sanctioned religion in the absence of religious faith.
“We do have a state religion. It’s called atheism,” Walters said. “We are promoting atheism by allowing schools to push out faith, push out any references to God. In Oklahoma, we are not going to allow that. We are going to teach history the way that it was. Our kids are going to understand the role that faith played in this country’s history.”
He shared similar thoughts in an opinion piece for Fox News on July 8. “For most of American history, the American education system was rooted in patriotic and Christian values,” he wrote. “As a result, American students got both the practical knowledge needed for the working world as well as the foundation of values necessary to be citizens of a representative government.”
A ‘frequent state/church offender’
FFRF describes Walters as a “frequent state/church offender,” and co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor called his assertion of state-sponsored atheism in schools “absurd.”
Walters first expressed his opinion of the Bible’s historical significance in a video he shared on Twitter on May 1. Above the video was a sentence that said, “Woke indoctrination is un-American.”
FFRF objected in a letter sent to Walters on May 11 saying, “The Bible historically is doubtless the single-most weaponized piece of writing on the planet, responsible for unjust wars, genocide, anti-semitism, violent extremism, subjugation of women and pervasive racism.”
Gaylor at that time threatened a lawsuit in a story published by Public Radio Tulsa. She said Walters was also a threat to public libraries in Oklahoma.
“This is all about dumbing down our nation, discouraging children from free access to information, much less reading,” Gaylor said.
On the “Washington Watch” program, Walters says it is the Far Left that wants dumbed-down students who will believe whatever they are told by a radical teacher.
“They’re the ones that continue to lower the academic standards of our kids,” he said. “They continue to make excuses for kids – tell kids they’re victims.”
That tactic of filling an empty mind is frequently called out on the Right, such as by The First TV host Jesse Kelly. A student of history, especially Communism, Kelly routinely warns that every student in a classroom is learning a worldview of some kind from the teacher.
In that Fox News op-ed, Walters also addressed that issue. “When truth disappears and creates a void,” he wrote, “something else is going to take the truth’s place.”
Walters said a favorite tactic of the Left is to steer kids away from historical documents such as the Federalist Papers or the U.S. Constitution, then suggest instead that the students read what someone else – frequently a left-wing scholar – has written about those papers.
“This comes from a fundamental belief that we don’t think kids can understand those primary sources. They absolutely can … understand where the founders were coming from and their explanation of these great documents, Walters said. “So, what we’ve seen is the Left dumbing down academics, and that’s how they’re able to push their ideology.”
Written by Parrish Alford for American Family News ~ July 28, 2023