A Christian activist group is in the spotlight today, and is the subject of a controversy over whether religion and faith practices should be part of schools and learning environments. The religious organization encouraged students to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day on October 16 and openly celebrate their belief in Jesus Christ, biblical doctrine and scripture. The long-standing debate remains polarized.
Focus on Family is the group behind the current religion in schools controversy. The initiative is not nationally sanctioned by public school officials, and it's unclear if there will be any distractions during school hours. However, the group emphasized to participants that the display of the Bible and any open discussion of their Christian beliefs should be done during non-teaching time. The organization's mission is displayed on its website.
"Did you know that students have recently been ordered to stop reading their Bibles during free time at school? Here at Focus on the Family, we believe the Bible is a powerful message of hope and love for humanity—something to be celebrated, not banned. We also believe in the cherished religious freedoms our Founding Fathers fought to protect.
"Do you share our desire to reverse this trend and equip the next generation to boldly exercise their religious freedoms—and be unashamed of their biblical beliefs? Then you'll love Focus on the Family's new event for students: Bring Your Bible to School Day on October 16! Students all across the country can stand up and celebrate their religious freedoms together."
The faith initiative also entails the recommendation that practitioners of Christianity take to social media and spread the message to family and friends that "God cares." Moreover, with Bibles cropping up across America today, students are also being inspired to share their favorite Bible scriptures, citing an October 16 report by The Blaze.
The controversy over Bibles and religion being in public schools still looms, despite the Supreme Court ruling that it falls within everyone's Constitutional rights of religious freedom or freedom of expression. Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, weighed in.
"Christian students don't abandon their constitutionally protected freedoms at the schoolhouse gate. Their freedom to express their beliefs includes the right to bring their Bible to school, to read it during their free time, and to engage in other activities as part of 'Bring Your Bible to School Day.'"
ADF prepared a legal memo ahead of students bringing holy books or pamphlets to school on the designated day. Contained within the document are itemized points that affirm and describe parameters which fall within the First Amendment.
"Students have a constitutional right to participate in and promote 'Bring Your Bible to School Day.' Unfortunately, schools all too often censor religious expression for fear of violating the often misunderstood 'separation of church and state,' for dislike of religious viewpoints, or for a desire to avoid controversy."
Bring Your Bible to School Day rose out of complaints from students that claimed they were admonished for bringing Bibles to school and forming Christian clubs on the premises. Additional reports say some schools put bans in place that restricted the practicing of faith during school hours.
It's unknown what the impact of the event will have on school administrations, agnostics, and atheists. However, activist leaders hope the public show of faith, backed by the High Court, tips the scale of the argument in favor of tolerance. Meanwhile, the religion in schools controversy remains.
[Image via: Berkeley]