Thousands of Christian students across the country will be celebrating the sixth annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Thursday, October 3, with the hopes of empowering students to express their beliefs in school and to do so in a respectful way.
The annual event was founded by Focus on the Family in response to American schools removing bibles from public schools. According to Days of the Year, when Bring Your Bible to School Day began in 2014, an estimated 8,000 students participated. By 2016, it was 356,000 strong and getting bigger every year since. This year’s participation is expected to surpass half a million students.
“Participation is voluntary and student-directed—meaning it’s completely up to students, Christian clubs and youth groups to sign up online and then lead the activities in their school,” writes Focus on the Family.
The event, which will be live-streamed all day long by children and teens via social media using the hashtag #BringYourBible, is meant to provide “a unique opportunity for young people to share their faith by highlighting its source – the Bible.”
It also provides a valuable teaching moment for students and teachers to help them better understand the law concerning faith in schools and avoid some of the many instances where children were left traumatized by school administrators who responded inappropriately – and in many cases illegally – to references to the Christian faith in school.
For example, as the Bring Your Bible to School day website details, one recent case involved a seven-year-old boy who shared the encouraging Bible verses his mother put in his lunch every day. When school officials found out, they reprimanded the child in front of other classmates.
In another case, a teen was told by a school official to stop bowing her head to pray before eating lunch.
A fifth-grade student who was reading the Bible during a free reading period was brought to the front of the class where the teacher sent a message to his parents explaining that he was “not permitted to read those books” in her classroom.
All of these incidents reflect common misunderstandings about what Christian students who want to live their faith can – and cannot – do in school.
As the site explains, students are legally permitted to pray silently or quietly before eating lunch. They can gather in groups to pray before or after school. They can also choose to pray before a student event.
“Student prayers are considered to be private, personal speech. They are allowed as long as they are student-led (rather than being adult-led or school endorsed), aren’t disrupting academic instruction, and are voluntary—meaning no student feels coerced to participate,” the site explains.
Students are also permitted to share Scripture with friends. “Students can voluntarily express their personal and religious beliefs to their classmates through verbal or written expressions, as long as they follow school policy and do not engage in these activities during classroom or instruction time.”
While schools are permitted to enforce reasonable limits on times and locations where students can distribute these materials, “these regulations must be applied equally to all students. That means schools cannot impose an outright ban on religious-themed materials if they already allow students to distribute non-religious materials.”
Students are also permitted to bring their Bible to school and are free to read them during their free time.
In addition, “a student can even use the Bible in a class assignment as long as the student does so in a way that is relevant to the subject the teacher has assigned and meets the requirements of the assignment.”
Students and Christian clubs must be given equal rights to participate in student-led events. This means that if a school allows one student group to post an event having to do with a secular subject on the wall, they must also allow students in a Christian club to display a poster about a Christian event. Violations of this law could amount to illegal viewpoint discrimination.
Bring Your Bible to School day amounts to a brilliant teaching moment for students, educators, and administrators.
Students who sign up to participate can access free get-started resources and enter for a chance to win a trip for four to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Children who are interested in participating are encouraged to sign up today!
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