Americans United for Separation of Church and State is launching an investigation into how Florida and Oklahoma education officials permitted public schools to incorporate materials from PragerU into their curricula.
PragerU is a conservative organization that exists to disseminate often-misleading propaganda to children. PragerU offers materials, primarily in the form of cartoon videos, that undermine the country’s foundational principle of church-state separation and advance the myth that America was founded to be, and must remain, a Christian nation.
Despite the well-publicized bias and deceptive information in PragerU materials, the Florida Board of Education in July 2023 approved the use of PragerU Kids videos in public schools. In Sept. 2023, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters announced his department had entered an “ongoing partnership” with PragerU Kids, permitting the use of PragerU materials in public schools.
Americans United demands public records on PragerU review process
Americans United today formally requested all public records from the Florida Department of Public Education and the Oklahoma State Department of Education that detail communications with and about PragerU, as well as records pertaining to the review process the departments used to vet and approve the use of PragerU materials in public schools.
“Public schools are the building blocks of our democracy. We owe it to our children to ensure their public schools provide a high-quality education that is free from religious coercion and rooted in facts, not theology or political ideology,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “A shadow network of Christian Nationalists and their political allies are working to destroy public education and church-state separation. They’re trying to ban books; prevent public schools from teaching lessons about race, sexual orientation, gender identity and even menstruation; and encouraging teachers to pray with public school students while displaying the Ten Commandments and ‘In God We Trust’ in classrooms.
“Christian Nationalists are trying to use the machinery of the state to impose their religious beliefs on all of our children – and to get taxpayers to fund this. Not on our watch,” Laser said. “We need a national recommitment to keep church and state separate – our public schools and our democracy depend on it.”
PragerU videos advance Christian Nationalism
PragerU content that advances a Christian Nationalist viewpoint includes:
- “Street Smarts: The Bill of Rights”: This video includes the “fun fact” that the literal words “separation of church and state” aren’t in the Constitution, but fails to explain how the principle of church-state separation is embedded in the First Amendment. (AU has a resource explaining the constitutional promise of church-state separation here.)
- “Craftory: God Bless America Ornament”: This video presents Americans’ right to religious freedom as being granted by the God of the “Hebrew and Christian Bibles.” The video further claims “America was founded on what’s called Judeo-Christian values” that are “at the very core of who America is.”
- “Leo & Layla’s History Adventures with George Washington”: This video includes an imagined meeting with the country’s first president in which he emphasizes the need for America to have “a religious and moral population.”
- “Craftory: American Trinity Platter”: This video presents the phrase “In God We Trust” as one third of the “trinity American values,” alongside e pluribus unum and liberty.
- Videos including “Guess or Mess: John D. Rockefeller,” “Leo & Layla Meet Christopher Columbus,” “India: Priya Overcomes Adversity” and “TBH History Russian Revolution: The Rise of Communism” praise several controversial historical figures or actions for their Christian beliefs or for spreading Christianity through colonialism.
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications