The initiative, sponsored by the organizations Focus on the Family and Day of Dialogue, is stated to be “designed to empower Christian students who have a heart for sharing Christ’s love and express a Biblical perspective on current-day issues with peers.”
“[T]he heart of the initiative is to equip students to express the model presented by Jesus Christ in the Bible—who didn’t back away from speaking truth, but neither held back in pouring out His compassionate love for hurting and vulnerable people and defending those people from harm,” the event website outlines.
“We believe truth rises to the surface when honest conversations and a free exchange of ideas are allowed to happen,” said Candi Cushman, facilitator of Day of Dialogue and Focus on the Family’s education analyst.“It equips the next generation of Christian leaders with confidence that the Gospel of Christ speaks into even the most sensitive cultural issues.”
Students participating in the effort were encouraged to not only bring their Bible to school, but to also engage in dialogue with their peers during non-instruction times about matters of faith. Organizers say that the event began three years ago with just a few hundred participants, but has now grown to an estimated 18,000 youth observances nationwide.
“Forty authors, five hundred languages, over six billion copies sold—why is this important? Because it’s your right under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bring your Bible to school,” a promotional video for “Bring Your Bible to School Day” declares.
The event is stated to serve in part as a demonstration of the rights belonging to Christian students after a number of reports in recent years have highlighted incidents where students were prohibited from reading the Bible during reading periods or using the Scriptures for an assignment.
As previously reported, earlier this year, eight-year-old Jason Cross was allegedly told by a teacher at Highview Elementary School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan that he should not bring his Bible to class because “it’s only for church—not school.” In May, fifth grade Giovanni Rubio made headlines when he was told that it was unacceptable for him to read the Bible during his free reading period.
“I noticed that he has a book—a religious book—in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom,” teacher Swornia Thomas stated in a voicemail to his father.
In October of last year, a student at Margarita Middle School in Temecula, California read the Bible after his teacher asked students to read a nonfiction book for 30 minutes to an hour that night. The next day, they were to bring their books to class as proof.
“The teacher said, ‘That’s not a nonfiction book,’” attorney Bob Tyler of Advocates for Faith and Freedom told Christian News Network. “[The student] said, ‘Well, honestly, I believe it is a nonfiction book. The teacher then said in a sharp tone, ‘Well, I’ll get back to you.’”
“Federal courts have repeatedly upheld the rights of students to bring their Bibles to school, to distribute Bibles at school, and to discuss the Bible at school during non-instructional time,” the legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) explained in a legal memo surrounding today’s observance.
“Christian students don’t abandon their constitutionally protected freedoms at the schoolhouse gate,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “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.’”