On October 6, 2022, approximately 500,000 students across the country will exercise their constitutional right to bring their Bibles to school and share their beliefs with fellow students as part of Focus on the Family’s Bring Your Bible to School Day event.
Since the event’s inception in 2014, participation has grown exponentially and students have been encouraged to boldly live out their faith, express their religious liberty, and have a positive influence on their peers.
While bringing your Bible to a public school may be counter-cultural, it is not counter to the law. In fact, the First Amendment is very clear when it comes to the freedom of religion and speech, and parents and students should rest assured that bringing your Bible to public school and sharing your faith on October 6 – or any day of the year – is constitutionally protected.
Attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have supported the Bring Your Bible effort for years. Their helpful explanation of students’ rights is easy-to-read and understandable.
Here are some basic things to know, according to ADF:
Students do not abandon their constitutional rights of free speech when they attend public school.
“Because the First Amendment applies in the public school context, schools must overcome a high barrier when they try to silence speech. Student expressive activity cannot be impeded unless that activity creates a material and substantial disruption to the school’s ability to fulfill its educational goals.”
Importantly, that standard cannot be met merely by the possibility of disruption, according to ADF.
Religious speech like the Bring Your Bible to School Day event is protected by the First Amendment.
“Importantly, public schools cannot restrict religious speech simply because it may be perceived by some as ‘offensive’ or ‘controversial.’”
Students may bring their Bibles to school, distribute Bibles, and discuss the Bible with fellow students.
“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. … When done during non-instructional time – during lunch, walking between classes, or before or after school – these activities will not disrupt school activities.”
Students may directly advertise the Bring Your Bible to School Day event to fellow students.
“The First Amendment applies to all student verbal expression and literature distribution during non-instructional time, regardless of religious content.”
If the school allows students to advertise events on bulletin boards or other means, it must allow students to advertise the Bring Your Bible to School Day event in the same fashion.
“The government may not discriminate against private religious speech when private secular speech is permitted in the same time, place and manner.”
The “separation of church and state” cannot justify official suppression of the Bring Your Bible to School Day event.
“School officials often mistakenly believe that allowing students to engage in religious speech at school would violate the ‘separation of church and state – a misunderstood phrase often cited in connection with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has rejected this very argument and has held that students’ private religious expression within a public school does not present any Establishment Clause problem.”
With ADF’s legal backing, Focus on the Family is encouraging students to confidently and boldly participate on October 6 – and every day.
“Bring Your Bible to School Day is an excellent opportunity for our nation’s students to boldly and freely stand for their faith,” Focus on the Family president Jim Daly told the Daily Citizen.
“In an age of shifting values and societal norms, some principles — like those found in the Bible — remain timeless. I hope students across the nation use this opportunity to share their faith with classmates and teachers,” he added.
Emerson Collins, Focus on the Family’s project manager for the Bring Your Bible to School Day event, also told the Daily Citizen: “It is crucial students today understand the importance of God’s Word as not only one of the most historically influential books of all time — but as a window into the heart of our Creator.”
In addition to the Bring Your Bible to School Day website, you can also follow the event on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo from Focus on the Family.