LifeWise Academy Integrates Biblical Education in Public Schools

Originally published May 23, 2023 8:00 pm PDT

“If we didn’t have LifeWise offered, we wouldn’t be regularly going to church and making God the center of our house,” said one mother.

QUICK FACTS:
  • LifeWise Academy is a Biblical program that operates within public schools to provide students with religious education during the school day.
  • Its founder and CEO, Joel Penton, a college football national champion and speaker, leads almost 14,000 students from the program.
  • Penton told The Daily Signal Podcast that LifeWise Academy stems from a 1952 Supreme Court ruling that allowed public school students to be released during school hours to receive religious instruction “as long as the program is off school property, privately funded, and with parental permission.”
  • According to LifeWise Academy’s FAQ page, the Bible programs do not interfere with mandatory school classes, often being scheduled as part of elective options.
  • The curriculum for the program is divided into three areas: head, heart, and hands.
  • The “head” focuses on “knowing what the Bible says, what happened in the story and what we learn about God, ourselves or the world;” the “heart” emphasizes “how the Bible story ties into and points to the big picture of the gospel;” and the “hands” detail “ways students can live out the changed character the gospel produces,” according to the organization’s website.
  • Financing for the program comes solely through generous donors, as students and schools “don’t pay a penny,” says Penton.
JOEL PENTON EXPLAINS THE PROCESS:
  • “We teach students the Bible, and so our programs tend to start at the elementary level,” Penton explained. “Students get one class each week. In the same way that a student would get art class once a week, they have a chance to have a Bible class once a week.”
  • “They start in Genesis in first grade, study all the way through to Revelation, and finish up in fifth grade,” he added in his comments to The Daily Signal.
  • Penton also noted that there is a correlation between children who receive religious education and better mental health.
  • Using that measure, Penton travels to schools, saying, “Hey, do you want kids who perform better on tests? Do you want kids who behave better and have better mental health? Well, then you want them to have an opportunity to have a Bible class as part of their education.”
BACKGROUND:
  • Evangelist Franklin Graham warned that “wokeness” may sweep across evangelical ministries.
  • Graham called for organizations to consider housing data on privately owned servers rather than with large companies such as Amazon, which may “cancel” the data due to anti-Christian values.

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