The freedom to distribute Bibles in schools and discuss scripture openly with fellow students is being celebrated nationwide Oct. 4 at the fifth annual Bring Your Bible to School Day.
The Focus on the Family (FOTF) event founded in 2014 is on track for its largest participation to date, founder Candi Cushman told Baptist Press Oct. 2.
“We’ll definitely exceed half a million participants, but it’s hard to measure and predict exact numbers because lots of kids wait until the last moment to sign up and join the movement,” said Cushman, FOTF director of education issues. “In addition to public school students in every state in the nation, we also have involvement from many kids in private schools and homeschooling communities who choose to do special events or distribute Bibles in their communities as a way of showing support. We welcome all of them.”
Nearly half a million participated in 2017, up from 8,000 in the event’s first year, FOTF said of the event open to kindergarteners through college students, with downloadable free resources for churches, pastors, parents and students at BringYourBible.org.
FOTF President Jim Daly said many students appreciate scripture but are afraid of it in school.
“When it comes to sharing the joy and peace they find through reading the Bible, some young people fear the consequences of doing so at school,” Daly said in a press release. “Fortunately, our founding fathers foresaw the need to guarantee individuals the ability to express their beliefs, and that’s exactly what students who participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day every year are celebrating.”
Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame is the 2018 honorary chairperson.
“This could be a huge redemptive story for schools all around your community,” Robertson said on the event website, “and you could be a part of doing this.” Students who register at BringYourBible.org will be entered in a drawing to win a chance for a family of four to meet Robertson.
In 2017, “Hailey” distributed 60 My Little Bible scripture books at the dual language elementary school she attended in California.
“Some of the kids, they didn’t have a Bible, and they were different religions, but they still wanted to learn about it,” Hailey said on the event website BringYourBible.org, “and I think this was a great idea to share with other kids … that Jesus loves them. I feel more open about talking about Jesus at school because of that event and just talking about the Bible.”
For high school student Ethan, the event allowed him to share his faith in what he described as his school’s “non-Christian environment.”
“I really shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am and I really shouldn’t be ashamed of what I believe,” Ethan said in an online video. “You have to be rooted in your Word. You have to have that subconscious thought of those Bible verses in the back of your head, especially when you’re attacked…. (Bible verses) give you courage, and they give you strength. They give you the will to carry on.”
Best-selling Christian author Lee Strobel is among many the event lists on its website.
“I’d like to encourage students to be strong and courageous, to bring your Bible to school,” Strobel said. “Remember the Bible says don’t be ashamed by the gospel, it is the power of salvation.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is providing complimentary legal resources for the event.
“God works through these students when they are brave enough to stand up for Him at school, and students across the country have noticed God at work through this event,” ADF spokesperson Sarah Kramer wrote at adflegal.org. A student’s First Amendment guide and a legal handbook are both downloadable at adflegal.org.
Cushman founded the event to educate and encourage students to operate in the religious freedom the U.S. affords.
“We were hearing from students and their families about how kids were told they couldn’t read their Bible during free time at school, or that they should hide their Bible away in a locker because it might offend someone,” Cushman told BP. “We were also seeing that same sentiment echoed in the national headlines.
“We wanted to create a fun, empowering way to remind students of their basic religious-freedom rights and let them know that they don’t have to hide their faith, or be ashamed of it, when they walk in the school doors,” Cushman said. “I think it resonates because it is something that’s an easy, proactive and positive way for students to express their faith and start conversations.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)