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'The Bible Is the Foundation': OK Lawmakers Urged to Pass Off-Site Bible Program for Public Schools

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A group of national faith leaders is urging the Oklahoma State Legislature to pass a bill that would empower parents in the state with the choice to enroll their children in a Bible education program during public school hours.

Troy Miller, President and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB); Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council; Pastor Samuel Rodriguez, President of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and a host of other Christian leaders are advocating for the Oklahoma State Legislature to pass House Bill 1425 which would create clear guidelines for religious release time programs for public school students. 

In 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students could be released from school during school hours, to receive religious instruction off school property with a parent's permission. 

"Religious release time gets results," the group of faith leaders shared in their letter adding that now is the time for the state's House to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"There are forces working feverishly to prevent the passage of HB 1425, leaving Oklahomans vulnerable to legal harassment with respect to Religious Release Time, and making it more difficult for children to receive Bible-based character education," they explained.

"The only credible reason that anyone would be opposed to such a bill is if one is opposed to parental choice, and to allowing children the opportunity to learn values like character, integrity, honesty, and respect—all ideas that come directly from the Bible," the letter continued. 

As CBN News has reported, LifeWise Academy currently offers religious instruction during the school day in Ohio and other locations. 

"As I travel across the country and hear from more and more parents and public school educators...I grow even more confident that our program is absolutely invaluable to the students and communities where we serve," said Joel Penton, Founder of LifeWise Academy in a statement.

Thousands of students are seeing their lives improved by the curriculum.

According to a study commissioned by Ambassador Enterprises, LifeWise Academy positively affected public school metrics like attendance, instruction hours, and classroom participation. 

In 76 of the studied schools across Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, the survey found that the schools' attendance rate increased in just the first year of the program – most attendance improved by nearly 7%. 

Schools with LifeWise programming saw improvements in discipline, with declines in both in-school and out-of-school suspensions. 

"We know that when students receive religious instruction, they experience spiritual growth and improved mental health. Their behavior and classroom participation improves, and teachers and parents are provided with a critical lifeline to help students become a more positive influence among their peers. Our Bible classes ensure students not only attain knowledge but also are inspired with wisdom that will shape their character," Penton said. 

Julie Coffman, director of LifeWise in Upper Arlington, shared in a video that LifeWise is a new wave of outreach.

"I can't wait to see what Heaven's going to look like when we see the impact of a whole group coming together with that same mission," Coffman said.

The coalition of faith leaders is urging Oklahoma House leaders to promote "the fundamental principles of American liberty" and keep the Bible as "the fabric of society."

"Americans continue to affirm that the Bible is the foundation of a great society, and over three-quarters of voters support teaching moral and character education to public school children," the group writes. 

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