I read with much concern the article published on December 30 regarding Release Time Bible Education ministries, often referred to as “Bible Release Time”, and the fear that another type of Release Time Education program may be targeting Campbell County.
I found the article to be erroneous in fact and alarmist in tone. I also believe the author was misinformed and uninformed about the Knox County School Board vote; Release Time Bible Education; and the threat voiced by an extremist fringe group. Therefore, I would like to take a moment to clear up some of the misunderstanding.
First, the statement that the Knox County School Board vote renders the development of a Release Time Bible Education program in Knox county moot is not true. The board vote was not to develop a written policy for release Time religious education. What that does, in effect, is to simply eliminate the school board from having any input in the development of standards or structure around any release time education program.
Here’s the truth about Release Time Bible Education:
1. It has been around for 105 years in the United States.
2. Release Time Bible Education is founded upon the constitutional right of parents to provide for the religious education for their children.
3. The first Release Time Bible Education program was developed by Dr. William Wirt, Superintendent of Schools in Gary, Indiana in 1914 with 619 students attending the class.
4. The legality of Released Time Bible Education was challenged in 1952 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U. S. 306,313 (New York). Subsequent challenges have also been defeated in lower level courts.
5. Today Release Time Bible Education is a part of more than 1000 school districts across the U. S. and serves more than 250,000 students.
6. Release Time Bible Education is anchored on three premises established by law.
a. Participation in Release Time Bible Education requires written permission (consent) from the parent or guardian of the student.
b. Release Time Bible Education classes must be held off- campus.
c. No school resources or public funding can be used to promote, support. or deliver Released Time Bible Education.
Here’s the truth about the Satanic Children’s Ministry:
1. There’s no evidence of their existence before November of 2019.
2. The group claims no presence or affiliation with anyone in Campbell County.
3. In their initial press release on November 02, 2019, the group stated that they are “not affiliated with any other satanic organization located in the US or elsewhere.” They also stated:
a. “Our preferred outcome is that all parents of Knox Co. realize the importance of keeping religion out of public schools completely… The best course of action for Knox Co. residents to take to prevent our program and other programs from entering the school would be to contact their schools and school board representative and let them know that they do not want release time programs in Knox Co. schools. “
So, by their own statement, they say they have no religious affiliation to a satanic church, which raises the questions:
1. Are they a recognized religious group?
2. Do they have a “Bible”?
3. If not, are they even governed by the legislation which allows release time education?
The following is a statement by Ken Breivik, Executive Director of School Ministries, Inc., the largest released time education organization in the country, with over 48 programs in 10 states, to the Knox County School Board. The Campbell County Christian Learning Center and the Elgin Children’s Foundation partner with and receive the full support of this organization.
“These groups are trying to create a heckler’s veto, where the government shuts down a speaker or activity in order to appease a hostile crowd. They believe that if they can create enough controversy or spawn unwanted media attention, Knox County Schools will cave in and simply cancel all released time programs. But “[t]he Supreme Court … has repeatedly affirmed the principle that ‘constitutional rights may not be denied simply because of hostility to their assertion or exercise.’” Bible Believers v. Wayne Cty., Mich., 805 F.3d 228, 252 (6th Cir. 2015).
More importantly, we believe that you recognize the actions of these hostile groups for what they are: a publicity stunt designed to shut down a beneficial program that scores of families in Knox County Schools have elected to send their children to attend. We encourage you to stand firm on the principles of parental rights and of tolerance toward all faiths by allowing a diversity of released time programs to flourish in your schools. Those programs that are motivated by a sincere desire to provide religious instruction sought after by parents in your communities will thrive. And those programs that are motivated by animus towards all faiths and that seek to tear rather than to build will eventually move on when their destructive impulses are met with a firm resolve not to capitulate.
School Ministries, Inc. would be happy to assist you in navigating this issue, as we have done with numerous other school districts who have consistently seen the benefits to student academic performance and behavior that released time programs bring.”
Now, to address the statement that this group may be coming to Campbell County. I doubt they will; but if they do. Let them come.
The Bible teaches us to not let worry about what might happen tomorrow prevent us from doing the right thing today.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
I want to encourage parents, school administrators, school board members and Christians throughout our community to stand firm in the belief that God will protect our children.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
I also want to encourage parents to remember the wise counsel from Proverbs 22:6.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Children’s Ministry Ambassador
Elgin Children’s Foundation (sponsor)
Campbell County Christian Learning Center