OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A chaotic start to Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting ended with Superintendent Ryan Walters recommending all schools allow a minute of silence for people to pray, meditate, or reflect.
In February, a group of religious leaders sent a letter to Walters requesting that he, “take every action possible to allow corporate prayer and expressions of faith in God,” back in public schools.
In Thursday’s meeting, Walters read aloud the religious advisory council’s full recommendations to the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
The Council’s recommendations included:
- A full minute of silence for prayer, meditation, or reflection
- Requiring each classroom of each school in Oklahoma school districts publicly display a copy of the Ten Commandments
- Require a Western Civilization course focused on fostering gratitude towards to, “the heritage which was integral to the nation’s founding and its western culture”
“What we’re going to continue to do is to make sure that faith isn’t being persecuted in our schools,” said Walters, after the meeting.
The superintendent said there is more work to do to ensure recommendations 2 and 3 are allowed to be carried out.
A spokesperson for OSDE said guidance will be sent to all public school districts in the coming weeks, with the expectation they follow the recommendation to require a minute of silence.
“That’s one of the things that we think is very important is, is that this country, the religious background of this country, was Judeo-Christian,” said Walters.
But as it pertains to the public display of the Ten Commandments, Oklahoma voters settled that issue in 2016.
Voters rejected SQ 790, which would have allowed public dollars and property to be used for the support of religion.
Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-OKC, said the threat of religious expression is not happening in Oklahoma, but the threat of prioritizing one religion over another is.
“This isn’t against Christianity or any religious faith in that matter,” said Dollens. “That doesn’t mean they [students] should be subjected to a particular faith when they walk into a public school.”