Reactions poured in following State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ announcement that every Oklahoma classroom must have a Bible and teach from it.

Walters made that announcement at Thursday’s board of education meeting, saying it is effective immediately.

“It is academic malpractice not to be teaching the Bible’s influence on American history. We’re going to be very explicit that that means teaching stories from the Bible in the grade level, that means teaching its influence on American history,” said Walters.

That announcement is already drawing harsh criticism, especially from various religious organizations in the metro.

“It is treading on very thin ice when it comes to the idea of religious freedom and the establishment clause of the Constitution,” said Adam Soltani, the executive director of CAIR Oklahoma.

Various religious groups are responding to Walters’ mandate, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma.

“To choose one religion, one scripture, and not only that but probably one particular translation of said scripture, that is highly problematic,” said Soltani.

Vered Harris, Rabbi at B’Nai Israel, said there are students of many faiths and not faiths in Oklahoma Public Schools, and it should be the parents’ decision what religious literature they learn about, not the state’s.

“This underlying assumption of the First Amendment has allowed me, as Jewish person, to grow up in this country — to grow up without fear that my governmental institutions are going to oppress me,” said Harris.

Bishop James Nunn, episcopal leader for the Oklahoma Area of The United Methodist Church, said in a statement, “United Methodists believe that the state should not attempt to control the church, nor should the church seek to dominate the state. We endorse public policies that do not create unconstitutional entanglements between church and state.”

Reverend Dr. Lori Walke, senior minister of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, said in a statement, “Will educators be reprimanded and schools discredited for teaching the history of how the Bible has been used to endorse slavery? On the other hand, will they be expected to teach biblical themes of liberation and justice or will that be deemed too ‘woke’?… Public Schools are not Sunday Schools.”

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says having the Bible in schools isn’t against state law, but he did not say if educators can be forced to teach from it.