Focus on the Family is encouraging school-aged kids to exercise their religious freedom by bringing their Bibles to school and talking to their friends about God’s word on October 6, 2016.
On their website, the organizers of Bring Your Bible to School Day ask, “Did you know that students have recently been told to stop reading their Bibles during free time at school—even though students have that right?” In response to what is seen as a violation of students’ religious liberties, Focus on the Family has organized an annual initiative to help students make a statement in the schools they attend.
Bring Your Bible to School Day estimates they will mobilize 300,000 students to participate this year. Started in 2014, the movement has grown from an estimated 8,000 participants the first year to about 155,000 participants last year.
Focus on the Family has teamed up with the Alliance Defending Freedom to protect the rights of students and to clarify the meaning behind “separation of church and state” that so often comes up whenever the issue of proselytizing in schools surfaces in public debate. In a statement posted to the Bring Your Bible to School Day website, the Alliance Defending Freedom states “Schools must allow students to bring Bibles to school, distribute Bibles, and discuss the Bible with classmates because these activities will not materially disrupt school activities.” Additionally, they state students have the right to advertise the event and encourage other students to participate. According to the ADF, “School officials may not prohibit this expression out of fear that allowing religious speech will offend some members of the community.”
When speaking to the Christian Post, Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, said “In many of the news stories we’ve read about students who have been forbidden from reading their Bibles or praying privately at school, it’s quite possible that the administrators involved simply thought they were upholding the law.” Daly hopes the event will help school administrators by showing them they don’t have “to police the students all the time when it comes to religious liberty issues,” while empowering students “to exercise their religious liberties, and to graciously and winsomely live out their faith.”
The band Newsboys has also jumped on the Bring Your Bible bandwagon, using their celebrity to encourage students to participate. Students who signed up for the event were automatically entered to win a trip for four to a Newsboys concert in Dallas.
The event even has its own hashtag: #BringYourBible, which apparently made a stir on Twitter last year. Several parents and teachers posted pictures of their students bringing their Bibles to school.
— Acadiana’sThriftyMom (@acadianathrifty) October 8, 2015
In a video promoting the event on their website, the organizers emphasize the need to tell students they shouldn’t fear expressing their faith or reading their Bibles at school. One girl in the video shares, “I was hesitant that if I brought my Bible to school, what are people going to say to me?” Another girl shares how she feels the event helped her shake her fear of sharing her faith. “Before bring your Bible to School Day, I think I was even more quiet than I was now. Now I’m willing to talk about my faith with everybody and anybody.”
The recent threat of Hurricane Matthew has put a damper on some students’ plans to participate. This too has been remedied by an alternate date of Oct. 20, 2016.