Thousands of students across the United States celebrated their religious freedom Thursday by bringing their Bibles to school as part of a new campaign launched by Christian organization Focus on the Family.
Officially dubbed "Bring Your Bible to School Day", October 8 saw over 140,000 students bring their Bibles to school in an effort to share "God's hope and celebrate religious freedom," according to the campaign's YouTube video description.
Focus on the Family president Jim Daly said that when his organization launched the campaign last year, they "had no idea God was going to do so much with the event in such a little time."
"This is about students who have a very real faith and love for Jesus and who care about their classmates. In their hearts is a desire to live out their faith boldly, yet many have felt like they need to hide their faith," he wrote in a recent blog post.
Using the hashtag #BringYourBible, thousands of students and professionals took to Facebook and Twitter to share photos of their Bibles and relay their experiences.
Wrote one mother of her daughter's participation in the event: "My daughter Divina has learned so much [more] about the Lord at her age than I did while I was growing up! As we drive to school each day we listen to the Christian radio and she pretty much knows every song now, and it astonishes me to find her closing her eyes and raising her hand up as she sings these songs. I am so glad that there is a day like this we can celebrate! ... most importantly she knows she belongs to the Lord and she turns to him."
Another mother named Miah shared that "my daughter was so excited to bring her Bible to school day! She attends kindergarten in Tennessee. We prayed over the Bible before she went in to school. We talked about how awesome it was that she could take her Bible to school whenever she wanted to and that kids in some countries were not able to do this."
The Christian band Newsboys also participated in the #BringYourBible campaign releasing a video that encourages students to live by Biblical verse John 1:5 - "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" - and bring their Bibles to school.
The #BringYourBible campaign comes just days after the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in which the shooter allegedly targeted Christian students. Additionally, some public schools across the country, like in Arizona and Florida, have banned Bibles amid public outcry. One Colorado school even banned students from using the words "Lord," "God," and "Jesus."
"Students have a legal right to bring their Bibles to school and read it during their free time," Daly writes. "Some educators might not be aware of this right. In some cases, we've heard of administrators attempting to impose a "cultural censorship" of sorts that make students feel like their faith is unwelcome in public schools. Whatever the case, too many students feel a quiet pressure to hide their faith - an integral part of who they are - while they're in school."
He continued, "Here at Focus on the Family, we believe the Bible should be celebrated, not banned or shunned. The students and families we represent are passionate about the fact it's God's message of hope and love for humanity. And 'Bring Your Bible to School Day' is one way we're empowering students to get out there and celebrate their religious freedom and faith."