Teaching the Bible in Public Schools
Messaging and Talking Points
Bible Class Bills
Bible Class bills are unwise, even if they are not always unconstitutional. Public schools often fail to meet constitutional requirements, and classes often end up more like Sunday school than a secular course on the Bible.
Kentucky passed a Bible Class bill in 2017, and a review by the ACLU found that many of the offered courses violate the Constitution.
Parents should not have to worry that their children will be preached to or forced to pray according to someone else’s faith tradition. Parents and students must be allowed to make their own decisions about religion. Students may engage in truly voluntary prayer, read the Bible in a nondisruptive way, and form religious clubs that meet after school. They can also talk to fellow students about religion, so long as it isn’t harassing. But public schools may not pressure students to engage in prayer or other religious activities.
Your taxpayer dollars fund public education, not religious education. No one should be forced to fund religious education whether they disagree—or even agree—with what is taught. That is why public schools should not promote religion, and why taxpayer dollars should never pay for tuition at private religious schools.
These bills are unnecessary and actually add more confusion than clarity. Current law already [does X, e.g. protects the rights of students engaging in religious expression], and these bills only serve to promote religious expression that goes far beyond what is permissible under our Constitution.
Click here for more talking points on religion in public schools.
Sample Social Media Posts
.@ELECTED-OFFICIAL, Oppose #Bill-Number! Don’t turn public schools into Sunday schools! #BlitzWatch
.@ELECTED-OFFICIAL, our taxpayer dollars fund public education, not Bible study. Oppose #Bill-Number!
Sample Action Alert
Email to Lawmakers
Subject: Oppose Controversial Bible Class Bill SB 252
As your constituent, I urge you to oppose SB 252, which would require an elective course on the Christian Bible in West Virginia’s public schools.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that public schools can teach about the Bible’s significance in history, literature, and art—but only if it is from a secular, objective standpoint. However, it’s been clearly documented that such classes resemble Sunday school more than public school. Even the authors of this bill make it clear that they do not intend to follow the constitutional requirements. They have stated that “America was essentially founded on the Bible” and that no religious text other than the Bible can “bring moral clarity” to public schools.
Public schools violate the First Amendment when they use the Bible to teach about religious beliefs. Yet this bill could encourage just that and open our state to the risk of expensive litigation. Please vote no on SB 252.
Email to Constituents
Subject: West Virginians, Urge Your State Senators to Oppose A Public School Class on the Bible
West Virginia’s State Senate is considering a bill, SB 252, that would require public schools to provide elective courses on the Christian Bible.
Why the just Bible and no other religious, historical, or philosophical texts? Because the sponsors of this bill falsely claim that “America was essentially founded on the Bible” and that no religious texts other than the Bible can “bring moral clarity” to public schools.
We need your help now: Tell your State Senators to vote NO on SB 252.
The Supreme Court has said that public schools may teach about the Bible because of its importance in history and art—but only if it’s from a secular, objective standpoint. However, it’s been clearly documented that such classes resemble Sunday school more than public school. Even the sponsors of this bill make it clear that they don’t intend to follow the constitutional requirements. As a result, schools may see this bill as an opportunity to proselytize to students and indoctrinate them about the Bible.
Protect our public schools today! Urge your State Senator to vote NO on SB 252 to allow Bible courses in public schools.
Email to Lawmakers
Subject: Oppose Controversial School Prayer Bill 252
The First Amendment protects the rights of students to express their religious beliefs, but it does not allow public schools to promote religion or school prayer. I urge you to oppose SB 436, which is intended to sanction coercive prayer in public school classrooms and at school-sponsored events.
While students can join religious clubs and engage in student-led religious expression that does not disrupt school activities, this measure goes far beyond that. Under this bill, students could proselytize during class, lead a prayer over the school intercom during morning announcements, or pray with their teachers and coaches at a game.
Florida public schools should be a welcoming place for students of all faiths and none, but SB 436 will make students who practice their faith differently from the majority feel like outsiders in their own schools. Please vote NO on SB 436.
Email to Constituents
Subject: Act Now! Urge Your Florida State Senator to Oppose a Bill that Would Allow School Prayer
SB 436, a bill that could coerce students into school prayer in Florida public schools, will soon face a vote on the Senate floor. Now is the time to urge your Senator to vote NO on this bill!
SB 436 claims to allow students a “voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint,” but it’s really about promoting prayer in school. For example, under this bill, students could proselytize during class, lead a prayer over the school intercom during morning announcements, or pray with their teachers and coaches at a game.
Our public schools serve students of all faiths and none, but this exclusionary bill would make students with religions or beliefs that are in the minority feel like outsiders in their own schools. Tell your Senator to oppose SB 436!