FACT CHECK: Is The Bible Banned In Public Schools But Allowed In Prison?
A post shared on Facebook over 960 times claims the Bible is banned in schools but encouraged in prison.
Bibles are permitted in both prisons and public schools. Religious freedom experts confirmed students and staff are welcome to read and carry the Bible in schools.
The Facebook post, which has garnered over 2,200 likes, claims the Holy Bible is not allowed in schools but is “encouraged” in prison. “If kids were allowed to read it at school, they may not end up in prison,” reads text included in the post.
Bibles are typically available in prisons. State and federal correctional institutions must provide inmates with the right to freely practice their religion in accordance with the First Amendment, according to the University of Scranton. Several organizations provide free Bibles to prisoners in the U.S.
However, the post’s claim about Bibles in schools is incorrect. Reading and carrying a Bible is not banned in school. The 1963 Supreme Court case Abington v. Schempp deemed mandatory readings from the Bible in public school as unconstitutional but did not ban the book outright.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states the Bible may be taught in public schools so long as it is done in a way that advances particular religious beliefs. In other words, it must be done for purely educational reasons. Students are free to carry and read the Bible in school, according to religious freedom experts.
“The post is categorically false,” said David Callaway, a religious freedom specialist at the Freedom Forum, in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims A Minnesota Middle School Discarded Books Because They ‘Cannot Be Cleaned’)
“Students are allowed to bring Bibles (or other scriptures) to school,” he continued. “They may take them out and read them at any time that it would be appropriate to read any other book brought from home – essentially, as long as it is not causing a disruption or otherwise interfering with the learning process. Many schools even have Bible elective courses that actually teach about the Bible and use it as a primary text during instruction.”
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications for First Liberty Institute, agreed with this conclusion. “Students are not only allowed to bring their Bible to school,” he told Fox News. “They’re certainly allowed to read it during free time, in between classes, and even reference the Bible within their assignments and class discussions.”
“Per federal law, the Bible and other religious materials are allowed in public schools,” a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson told Check Your Fact in an email.
Hundreds of thousands of Christian students participated in last year’s “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” an annual nationwide event organized by the group Focus on the Family, according to the Christian Post.