Ryan Walters

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Oklahoma state superintendent says pastor and right-wing commentator suggested his new Bible mandate in public schools

Conservative media figures promoted the new policy as a way to “impose Christian values on the pagans” and encouraged other states to follow suit

Right-wing media figures are praising Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters’ mandate that the state’s public schools teach the Bible, including declaring that the government needs to “impose Christian values on the pagans” and encouraging other states to follow Walters’ lead.

Following his announcement of the new Bible mandate for Oklahoma's public schools, Walters has spoken with Fox News and other right-wing media to promote the policy, including appearing with a right-wing commentator and pastor who has promised to “embrace Christian Nationalism” and apparently “reached out” to Walters about mandating the Bible in schools. Notably, Walters has a history of taking education policy advice from right-wing media figures.

  • Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters, who has previously taken inspiration from right-wing media, issued a mandate requiring public schools to incorporate the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, into their curriculums

    • On June 27, Walters issued a mandate directing all Oklahoma public schools to teach the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, saying, “Every teacher, every classroom in the state will have a Bible in the classroom.” The New York Times reported that Walters’ mandate “to bring religious texts into the classroom reflect a growing national movement among conservatives — particularly Catholics and evangelicals who oppose abortion, transgender rights and what they view as liberal school curriculums — to openly embrace the idea that America’s democracy needs to be grounded in their Christian values.” [The New York Times, 6/27/24]
    • Walters said in an interview that the mandate was inspired by former President Donald Trump. Walters told U.S. News & World Report that “frankly, a lot of our inspiration came from President Trump. President Trump has been very supportive.” [U.S. News & World Report, 7/1/24]
    • Walters has repeatedly appeared on Fox News, has a close relationship with BlazeTV host Steve Deace, and has previously taken inspiration for policy from a right-wing influencer. In one appearance on Deace’s show, Walters thanked the host for “responding to late night calls and texts that I've given you throughout the last couple of years.” Chaya Raichik, who runs the anti-LGBTQ social media account “Libs of TikTok,” bragged in December 2023 that she “helped inspire” Walters’ policy targeting teachers for discussing sexual orientation in the classroom. [Media Matters, 10/6/23; Twitter/X, 12/21/23]
  • After issuing the mandate, Walters appeared on several right-wing media programs and said a far-right media figure and pastor had pitched the policy

    • During an appearance after issuing the mandate, Walters claimed that right-wing commentator and pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who has promised to “embrace Christian nationalism” and previously ran for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma, encouraged him to implement such a policy last year. At Lahmeyer’s church, Walters claimed that the pastor had “documented this, he reached out, and we’ve been looking at it now for about a year,” arguing, “How do you teach history without the Bible? You can’t. It is academic malpractice.” Lahmeyer, who said in 2022 that he “will embrace Christian Nationalism,” praised Walters for issuing the mandate and suggested other states would follow his lead. [Broken Arrow Sentinel, 6/30/24; Media Matters, 6/5/24; Rolling Stone, 12/27/22; PR Newswire, 10/4/22]
    • Walters appeared on Fox News on June 28 to promote the mandate and also published a July 3 op-ed on FoxNews.com that dismissed the separation of church and state as “an anti-religious myth masquerading as legal theory.” On Fox News @ Night, Walters lamented that “the left has been pushing indoctrination on our kids” and “they have driven the Bible out of schools,” adding that “our founders had Christian values and they instituted them in this country.” [Twitter/X, 6/29/24; FoxNews.com, 7/3/24]
    • Walters touted the new school mandate in an interview on Family Research Council’s Washington Watch podcast, claiming that “radical leftists” are trying “to put pornography in there to push your kids to be transgender, but then they claim there’s no academic value to the Bible.” Walters said, “I think it's academic malpractice not to have the Bible as a source document that's being used heavily in your schools,” and claimed that “the left has been targeting the Bible and Christianity in schools to drive the Bible out.” Guest host and former Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) told Walters that it “is so exciting to see what you're doing, and I hope there are other state school superintendents who are watching this are going to be able to see your comments here, because this not only is a great move, but it is common sense.” [YouTube, 7/1/24]
    • On War Room, Walters suggested that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is in jail because schools don’t teach the Bible and claimed that “we've been in contact with many states across the country” about implementing a similar policy. Guest host Benjamin Hartwell praised Walters’ mandate, saying “the War Room posse are going to be absolutely thrilled to see what you're doing.” Walters predicted that if Trump wins, a similar policy could be adopted nationally, saying: “You're going to see a push from the White House to say, ‘Listen, if we're going to teach history, you’ve got to teach history the right way, so that means all states need to be adopting the same measure we have here.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 7/3/24; Raw Story, 7/3/24; Foreign Policy, 1/15/23]
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    Citation From the July 3, 2024, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room

    • In an interview promoting the mandate with Just the News, Walters claimed that “the radical left” has “weaponized the school system against the Bible” and “turned our schools into state-sponsored atheist centers.” Walters also vowed that “there will be a Bible being taught from in every classroom here in the state,” and host John Solomon said that Oklahoma is “a test bed for what future education is going to look like.” [Just the News, 7/2/24; Real America’s Voice, Just the News No Noise, 7/2/24]
  • Video file

    Citation On the July 2, 2024, edition of Real America's Voice's Just the News No Noise

  • Right-wing media cheered Walters’ mandate and urged other states to follow suit

    • On Fox News, pastor Robert Jeffress cheered the mandate and said that “our children are perishing in immorality, addictions, gun violence, and transgender confusion, all because we have forgotten God.” Jeffress, a frequent Fox guest and a former Trump adviser, declared he’s “all for” the mandate, explaining: “What people forget, Trace, is that for the first 150 years of our country’s history, Bible reading, prayer, learning the Ten Commandments was part of a normal classroom experience. It was just in the last 60 years that the left has been in a rabid effort to remove any acknowledgment of God from the public schools. … There is a scripture verse that says where there is no word from God, the people perish. And our children are perishing in immorality, addictions, gun violence, and transgender confusion all because we have forgotten God. I thank God for men like Ryan Walters who are helping return our country to its historic Judeo-Christian faith and foundation.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 6/29/24; Texas Monthly, August 2019; Media Matters, 1/30/20]
  • Video file

    Citation From the June 28, 2024, edition of Fox News' Fox News @ Night

    • Newsmax host Chris Plante framed the mandate as “a counter” to LGBTQ pride and Black Lives Matter flags, saying, “Maybe we should have something normal in the classroom.” Plante said: “I think the wind is shifting. This is almost part and parcel of the same thing, because after years of the usual cast of characters, the lefties demanding that you have a rainbow flag in every classroom and a Black Lives Matter flag in every classroom, and all their political statements be on the walls everywhere and be part of the curriculum. Now normal people are saying, well, what about, you know, the 99% over here? Maybe we should have something normal in the classroom.” He later called Walters’ new policy “a counter to all of the left-wing mandates in classrooms from the pride flags and the twerking and all of the other left-wing stuff that had been inflicted on children in classrooms in schools.” [Newsmax, Chris Plante The Right Squad, 6/28/24]
  • Video file

    Citation From the June 28, 2024, edition of Newsmax's Chris Plante The Right Squad

    • On X (formerly known as Twitter), Steve Deace shared Walters’ announcement of the school Bible mandate and said: “My man!” [Twitter/X, 6/27/24]
    • Right-wing pundit and education activist Christopher Rufo also shared Walters’ announcement on X and said: “Good.” Rufo has been a leading figure behind the scare campaign against supposed “critical race theory” in public schools, and he has also fearmongered about and waged campaigns against the LGBTQ community. [Twitter/X, 6/27/24; Media Matters, 6/23/21, 2/2/23]
    • Emerald Robinson, a far-right pundit and host for MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s media outlet, praised the order, saying, “This is the way: impose Christian values on the pagans.” [Twitter/X, 6/27/24; The Daily Beast, 1/17/22]
    • Right-wing outlet Townhall promoted Walters’ school Bible mandate in a piece headlined, “Why Every State Needs to Follow In Oklahoma's Footsteps.” [Townhall, 6/29/24]
    • A column at right-wing outlet PJ Media described the policy as “a natural reaction to the stories that seemed to crop up daily about teachers including DEI, CRT, and LGBTQ elements in class curricula.” The article concluded, “The Bible is a gold mine of information and perfectly suits an academic atmosphere,” adding that Walters’ mandate has “the potential … for a resounding success.” [PJ Media, 6/28/24]
    • Right-wing outlet The Western Journal posted an article praising Walters’ mandate titled “Hope: Oklahoma Putting Bible Back in Schools After Louisiana Brings 10 Commandments Back.” The article lamented that “leftists and Democrats across the board are going to argue against the move,” adding that, “In reality, the Bible, and the moral code embedded in it, laid the groundwork for all of Western civilization.” [The Western Journal, 6/28/24]
    • Gab founder Andrew Torba, who has pushed both Christian nationalism and antisemitism, seemingly endorsed the mandate: “Balkanization is accelerating. Tribe up. Get to a state where your tribe dominates and has control. Isolate and drive out anyone who threatens your dominance.” [Gab, 6/27/24; Business Insider, 10/23/22]