How America Has Gone From the Old Deluder Satan Act to Banning Bibles in School

By Robert Stitt

When our country was founded, people came here to find religious freedom. They wanted the freedom to teach their children that God, Jesus, and satan are real. They wanted their children to know how to read the Bible. They wanted them to know right from wrong.

The leaders of our young country understood the dangers of an illiterate and uneducated populace. They also knew that parents were too busy forging a new land to adequately teach the children all they needed to know. The first schools in America were formed with a single purpose: teach the children to read and understand the Bible in order to make good, moral, biblically sound judgments. The name of the law that mandated schools in each community with at least 50 families: The Old Deluder Satan Act.

Christian educator Tim Hoy says that our forefathers believed that much of the persecution they faced in Europe (that they fled to America to avoid) “were allowed to take place because of the populace’s illiteracy in general and biblical illiteracy in particular.” In addition to the Old Deluder Satan Act, the Connecticut Literacy Law, which sought to make sure the citizenry was prepared for “reading the Holy Word of God and the good laws of this (State)” was passed in 1690.

The year is now 2015, and our populace is much more enlightened. So much so that when “Bring Your Bible to School Day” was sponsored by Focus on the Family, school districts balked. 

Parents in California’s Folsom Cordova Unified School District were not just upset that Bibles were encouraged in school, but that information was sent home with the students and promoted through the district email, even though there was a disclaimer that the district was not sponsoring or endorsing the event.

According to Charisma News, one angry parent said, “It’s unbelievable the district is supporting something that blurs the line between public education and religion,” and another was “furious that the district had allowed a religious entity to promote itself via the district email system.”

Ashley Slovak kept her daughter home so she wouldn’t feel “ostracized”. Charisma counters, “How do committed Christian kids feel every day in school districts across America when their views are ridiculed, when they are called bigots and haters because they cannot endorse the latest politically correct trend, when carrying a Bible with them is considered a sign of fanaticism?”

What do young Christians think about this? One said, “We are under so much pressure at school!'” Another added, “There aren’t many of my generation who agree with our beliefs so it’s a mental battle every day at my school.”

How did we get here from the federal law passed by our founding fathers that “required all existing and incoming states to establish schools that will teach ‘religion, morality and knowledge,’ [while] many of the founding fathers advocated that the Bible be the primary text in these schools”? As recently as 1840,  the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said, “Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the (school)—its general precepts expounded … and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? … Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety and industry so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the Sacred Volume?” (U.S. Supreme Court, Vidal vs. Girard’s Executor, 1844).

Is there hope? Only if Christian children are encouraged to and allowed to bring their Bibles to school, are taught to read them, and live out the words they find within.