“Children in American public schools traditionally learned the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Today, students in more than half of the U.S. states can study a fourth R: religion,” The Conversation reports.

“Oklahoma is the most recent state to allow school boards to implement ‘release time’: off-site classes with religious or moral instruction that K-12 students can attend for part of school days with parental consent. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1425 into law, which authorized the program, on June 5, 2024.

“Oklahoma’s law requires school boards to adopt policies permitting students to attend release-time classes for up to three class periods per week. Sessions must be taught at independent entities not on school property. Instructors need not be certificated educators but must keep attendance records, and students are responsible for making up classwork they miss.

“In a move likely to generate controversy, the Satanic Temple – a nontheistic religious group that advocates for separation of church and state, along with such ideas as rationality, compassion and bodily autonomy – announced its intention to offer classes on its Facebook account.

“Release time may spark debate, but it is not new. Programs were proposed in New York City in 1905, although the first program did not open until 1914, in Gary, Indiana. The number of states with programs grew in the 1930s and ‘40s – and the issue soon made its way to the Supreme Court.”

Read the full article on The Conversation.