Elizabeth Ridenour paused, the words the Lord spoke to her heart seemed to echo through every cell of her body.
I have something important I want you to do.
If anyone had told Elizabeth two years before that she would learn to hear the voice of God, she would have been hard pressed to believe them. Even now, the idea that God - the Creator of the universe - had an assignment for her was almost overwhelming. At times it seemed as though an unseen hand had ordered her steps and brought her to this place.
Shaking her head as if to clear it, Elizabeth left her place of prayer. As she walked toward the kitchen to start breakfast, she glanced at a stack of books and smiled at the names on the .covers - Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.
The Copelands' books had been instrumental in bringing Elizabeth from darkness to light. It was easy to imagine God speaking to them and saying He had an important assignment for them,
But me? she laughed. Me?
"I had no idea what it was that God wanted me to do," Elizabeth explained, "I just knew He was dealing with me about something. So I began to pray. Meanwhile, I held intercessory prayer meetings.
"I also got involved with 'Meet Me at the Pole' and Christian students' rights."
That was when the inner fire began to burn within Elizabeth. That's when God's purpose began to take hold. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, she began to study about the problems in America's schools.
She hungrily read through books and documents in order to find out what had happened since the Supreme Court had tried to separate God from the educational system.
"I discovered that since 1963, when the Bible was removed from public schools, the United States has become the world's leader in violent crime, divorce, illegal drug use and illiteracy," Elizabeth recalled. "After the Bible was removed from public schools, SAT scores dropped for 19 consecutive years."
It made sense that those scores would drop when Elizabeth considered that the Bible was the foundation and blueprint for the Constitution. How could a student understand one without the other? The Bible was the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. The Bible was the foundation for this nation's educational system.
In fact, the Bible was the foundation of the nation's entire history - until the last 30 years. Without a basic understanding of the Bible and its role in our society, students are academically handicapped.
What can we do? Elizabeth wondered. The Supreme Court had kicked the Bible out of school, hadn't they?"
I met a missionary who told me that there was a woman who'd been teaching the Bible in a public school here in North Carolina for 23 years," Elizabeth recalled. "I was stunned. How had she done it? And if she could do it, why couldn't the Bible be taught in other schools?"
An idea took root in Elizabeth's heart. Was it possible to get the Bible back into public schools?
That's what I've called you to do.
Me? she gasped. Could God use her to help get the Bible back?
"I decided to meet with the school teacher who's taught the Bible successfully for so long. She told me that, according to the law, the Bible course curriculum must me concerned with education rather than indoctrination of students."
Elizabeth decided to find out exactly what the law said about the Bible in public schools. Her quest for information took her to the American Center for Law and Justice, the National Legal Foundation, and the American Family Association Law Center.
What she discovered was the deception that the Bible is forbidden in public schools. That was clearly not the decision of the Supreme Court.
In the landmark ruling of School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 225 (1963), the court held the "it certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicated that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may be effected consistently with the First Amendment."
In the ruling of Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 42 (1980), the Supreme Court stated that, "the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like."
And, in Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, 619 F.2d 1311, 1314 (8th Cir, 1980), the court found that permitting public school observances which include religious element promotes the secular purpose of "advancing the student's knowledge and appreciation for the role that our religious heritage has played in the social, cultural and historical development of civilization."
In at least two other cases, Elizabeth found that the high court ruled favorably where using the Bible in public school was concerned. It was clear that the Supreme Court had never kicked the Bible out of our public schools, but that, in 1963, Christians across America had swallowed a lie that declared that the Bible could no longer be used as a text in public schools.
Elizabeth began gathering information and printing brochures and booklets on the subject. She also formed a nonprofit group called the North Carolina Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools.
"I knew that the Christian community stood silently by when the Bible left our school system in 1963," Elizabeth said. " The only way to approach the problem was to get the message of truth out to the public and pray that this time Christians would use their voices.
"I sent the information I'd gathered out over radio, television and the print media. The response was overwhelming. But I wasn't just hearing from North Carolina. I was hearing from the nation! After only two months, I rechartered as a national nonprofit organization."
Elizabeth also established an advisory committee for the council, which included 30 legislators and attorneys from around the country who shared her desire to see the Bible taught again in public schools.
"A mother in Winston-Salem, N.C., read the literature and phoned me. She wanted to lead the way in her school district. She went before the school board proposing that the Bible be offered as an elective in their eight high schools. It would be taught as history and literature. The first semester would cover the Old Testament, and the second semester would cover the life of Christ.
"The woman arrived with a briefcase full of information. But once the school board understood the law, they voted in favor of the Bible curriculum unanimously," Elizabeth said. "Even more amazing, 500 students signed up to take the course!"
After Winston-Salem, Elizabeth began working 14-hour days to keep pace with all the requests for help and information.
Although the National Council On Bible Curriculum In Public Schools doesn't seek out schools and attempt to implement the curriculum, they do provide documentation, materials and support for any parent who want to introduce this to their school boards.
To date 71 school districts in 26 states have approved and implemented the Bible curriculum, Elizabeth said. Ninety percent of those boards voted unanimously in favor of returning the Bible to their schools.
"The response from teachers and students has been wonderful," Elizabeth said. "Students from every cross section of our culture have signed up for the course. Although the Bible is taught as history and literature, teachers report that the Bible has a positive effect on the character of students - even those who had previously been rebellious and those openly involved in the occult.
"The Bible curriculum is vital for everyone, even those whose children are home-schooled or in private schools. The children in public schools will be their neighbors, doctors, lawyers, coworkers and friends throughout the rest of their lives. What happens in the schools today will affect all of our society tomorrow."
Through lies and deception, the Bible was kicked out of public schools for 30 years. Elizabeth Ridenour has discovered the truth - that there is an antidote for what is plaguing our schools.
It's the Bible.
And it's back!