Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s Bring Your Bible to School Day proclamation is narrow-minded and totally inappropriate, asserts the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Many concerned Kentucky residents have contacted the state/church watchdog to report that on Oct. 1, Bevin placed a video on his official government social media page showing him at his desk, with a bible in front of him, promoting today, Oct. 3, as “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” The post read:
STUDENTS #BringYourBible to School Day is THIS Thursday, Oct. 3!
The Judeo-Christian principles that are bound in this book are timeless, containing an amazing amount of history, knowledge, wisdom and guidance…
Bring it. Read it. Share it. #WeAreKY
It is coercive and unconstitutional for the government to encourage students to bring religious books to school, in this case a particular book one official considers holy, FFRF contends.
“This signals official endorsement of a particular religious text,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to the governor. “This post goes even further, directly endorsing the alleged ‘wisdom and guidance’ of the bible and encouraging students not only to bring a bible to school, but also to ‘Read it’ and ‘Share it.’ By presumptuously adding ‘#WeAreKY,’ you openly suggest that Kentucky is a Christian state and that non-Christians are not part of Kentucky.”
The video that accompanied the post is even more egregious. Bevin begins by encouraging “every single student in Kentucky,” regardless of their religion or lack thereof, to bring a bible to school. This suggests that even the approximately one-in-four Kentucky students who are not Christian should participate in this show of Christianity. Bevin even urges students to proselytize — to share their bible with “someone who maybe doesn’t have one, who maybe has never read this book.” He calls the bible “extraordinary,” and opines that everyone should make this particular holy book “an important part of your life.”
FFRF’s Kentucky members have objected several times before to Bevin about his abuse of his secular government office to promote his personal religion. This track record, as well as the over-the-top sectarian divisiveness of the current video, leave no doubt that he is willing to sacrifice the fundamental American principles of inclusiveness, tolerance, and secular government in favor of pandering and promoting his personal religion.
Bevin has shown remarkable obtuseness regarding the bible. This is particularly ironic since he is encouraging students to read, study and share it. Many of the bible’s historical claims are contradicted by actual scholarship (e.g., the nonexistent enslavement and exodus of the Israelites in Egypt), and much of the book is not only ahistorical, but patently absurd (such as a boat full of animals surviving a worldwide flood and repopulating the Earth, Jonah surviving in the stomach of a whale, talking donkeys, etc.), FFRF notes.
The students of Kentucky are constitutionally entitled to a secular government, including both their public school system and their state leadership, Barker and Gaylor conclude. “If there is one thing we should be able to agree on, it is that public servants should set aside their personal prejudices and divisive sectarian beliefs so that they can work toward the common good that they were elected for,” they say. On behalf of its Kentucky membership, FFRF exhorts: “Gov. Bevin, get off your knees and get to work!”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit with more than 30,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including hundreds of members and a state chapter in Kentucky. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public about matters related to nontheism.