LifeWise academy says NBC News hit-piece left out positive results of its Bible classes for public school students, including higher attendance and decreased suspensions

Mar 27, 2024 | Political News

An Ohio Christian nonprofit that offers Bible classes to public school children found itself at the center of a recent NBC News hit piece.

LifeWise Academy, which was launched in 2018, offers weekly Bible classes to public school students during school hours that are scheduled to coincide with either lunch, library, or other noncore courses. The students are transported off-campus via bus to attend the Bible sessions, which are permitted thanks to a US Supreme Court ruling that allows religious instruction to be taught during school hours as long as it's off-campus.

The group's founder and CEO, Joel Penton, said on Tuesday that the network's article left out the incredible results that the program has had on students among its 300 chapters in more than a dozen states. This includes an increase in attendance, a decrease in suspensions, and improved behavior.

“We're disappointed with NBC's most recent article about LifeWise. We worked with them in good faith to share the positive impact LifeWise is having on students and schools. Unfortunately, they left out some of the most important facts,” said LifeWise Academy on X.

The NBC article, which was published on Monday, did not mention the results of the program but rather focused on how a decades-old law is allowing this to occur at public schools, as well as parents, students, and faculty members expressing opposition to the program.

“Well, NBC News did a national news piece on our organization and I have to say I'm a little disappointed because we invited them in, we lined up people for them to speak to, and they left out some of the most critical information. They left out the results in this news piece. They didn't share what results we're seeing,” said Penton in a video published on X.

Penton went on to share results from a third-party independent study that surveyed thousands of schools and found that when LifeWise Academy is implemented at schools, there's an overwhelmingly positive effect on student behavior.

“Attendance goes up,” said Penton. “Schools are struggling with attendance post-COVID-19, and with LifeWise, attendance goes up to the point that there's a net increase in class time. Even though kids are being removed for a short period of time for Bible education, they end up spending more time in class simply because attendance goes up so much.”

“Also, in-school suspensions go down, out-of-school suspensions go down,” he added, and said: “So there's clearly improved behavior. If you're reporting on this, why wouldn't you share these results after we shared them repeatedly?”

LifeWise Academy has received major support from conservatives at the forefront of the nation's culture wars and parents fight back against public school indoctrination, such as the radical LGBTQ agenda and sexually explicit books being imposed on children. Its rapid expansion has drawn praise from Christian organizations and parents who have long opposed the removal of religion from American schools, however, critics say there should be a clear separation of church and state.

Advocates claim that LifeWise, which uses Bible lessons to teach children character development, adheres to the principle of the separation of religion and state. Public schools are not allowed to provide funding or endorse the organization, and parents have to provide permission slips for their children to attend the program which is free.