Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters Discusses His Announcement That All Schools Must Incorporate The Bible and Ten Commandments In Curriculum; Jamie Foxx Opens Up About His Health Scare; White House Briefing Amid Doubts Over Biden Campaign. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 14:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: General Marks, great to have you. Thank you.

Public schools in Oklahoma are now required to teach lessons from the Bible. Next, we're going to talk to the official behind the controversial new order, who inspired him, how he wants the fully book incorporated, and why he's confident the mandate will hold up in court.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Oklahoma's education chief says the inspiration behind a new Band-Aid requiring schools to incorporate lessons from the Bible and Ten Commandments came from former President Trump.

Last week, Ryan Walters, Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction, sent out a memorandum requiring every classroom from grades five through 12 to have a Bible and that teachers must teach from it.

I'm joined now by the man behind this controversial mandate, Ryan Walters.

Thank you for your time today. Looking forward to this discussion.

So we have the mandate here. We just referenced it.

And this, you're saying that the teaching of the Bible in the classroom is a must, that every teacher must accept that.

The Bible includes beheading, rape and incest. Do you support teaching children about those topics?


RYAN WALTERS, OKLAHOMA STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: I support teaching children our history accurately. And what we've seen is the radical left and the teachers' union have driven the Bible out of schools. You can't talk about our rights coming from God, as Thomas Jefferson

referenced. You can't talk about Abraham Lincoln talking about being on Gods side and what he does and that inspires him.

You can't talk about the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr, who routinely referenced examples from the Bible, including from a letter from a Birmingham jail, to say the reason I'm doing the things I'm doing is because of the tenants taught to me by the Bible.

So it's essential that our kids understand our history. And we're going to put it back in. And the left is going to continue to try to censor our history. And we're not going to allow it here in Oklahoma.

BROWN: OK. You didn't answer my question. We're going to get to the history and everything. And by the way, Thomas Jefferson, he advocated for freedom of religion actually, not the establishment of a religion for one.

But are you OK with all teachings of the Bible? If you want to bring it back into the classroom, rape, incest, beheading, are --u is that acceptable to you?

WALTERS: Again, I'll answer your question. You might not like to answer, but it is the answer. It is our history.


WALTERS: -- another reference. The Bible was referenced multiple times in American history. It had a profound influence on American history. It was the best-selling book in American history.

To not teach that in the classroom is academic malpractice. Our kids have to understand our history and we're not going to hide that from them.

BROWN: OK. So will you allow teachers to teach all aspects of the Bible? How are teachers supposed to know what of the Bible to teach and what of the Bible not to teach.

It's a simple question, given the fact that the Bible includes also porn --pornographic material, something you've come out against, and actually took a teaching certificate away from a teacher for giving access to students for pornographic material. That's in the Bible.

WALTERS: Yes. Let me be crystal clear. The Bible is not on the same plane as gender, queer and flamer. These are pornography. The Bible is a book that was referenced throughout American history.

We have academic standards that tell are teachers that you are to talk about the Bible in reference to the Mayflower Compact. Let her do "From a Birmingham Jail," the Declaration of Independence.

So these are all very clear -- it's very clear from primary sources that these individuals are referencing history. In our history, they referenced the Bible. So look, when it's historically accurate, we're absolutely going to

include that. I mean, think about how absurd it would be to teach about the Pilgrims if you don't mention their intention for moving to the New World. It's crucial.

And we're not going to allow the radical left to continue to push a false history on our kids that said that faith played no role. Well, just read the history. It's clearly there.

BROWN: OK. And we should note -- and we're going to get to this in a second -- God is not mentioned in the Constitution. It is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but not a Christian God, right?

All it says is, "All men are created equal." And one would argue it's not creating a stature of, if you're a Christian, you believe in the Bible, you are of a higher stature.

But I want to go back to this in terms of for the teachers here. Because in one case, you took a teaching certificate away from a teacher for what that teacher taught in class. You said it was pornographic material and it was unacceptable.

In this case, you're telling teachers, hey, teach the Bible. How's a teacher to know what to teach, how to teach it? How will you monitor that? What if a teacher says, look, I'm a math teacher, I'm not a theologian. I'm a Muslim. Teaching this is against my most closely held beliefs.

Where is the clarity on all of that?

WALTERS: The clarity comes in our academic standards. Again, when you have examples in history where individuals referenced the Bible, our kids are going to hear about the Bible.

When you have examples in history where people literally cite Bible verses in presidential speech, our kids are going to understand that context.

So you continue to put the Bible on the same moral plain as gender, queer and flame or -- and pornography. It's not.

It is the best-selling book in American history. There has been no more widespread book that's been read in American history more than the Bible.

If you don't have that in a classroom, in a history course, in a literature course, you are not teaching the students the story of America. So it has to be included.

And people can be offended by that, people can not like it, but they can't rewrite our history.

BROWN: OK. So let's talk a little bit more about the history here. What do you say to critics that say, this is a violation of the separation of church and state principle in the Constitution. You have the Establishment Clause and you have the forbidding of

religious tests for a public-office holder, and that God is not in the Constitution. And that this country was actually founded on the belief of freedom of religion, not the establishment of religion.

What do you say to that?

WALTERS: I say that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching a history course. A history course is there to tell our kids what happened in American history.

To censor the Bible out of our schools is to create our schools to be state-sponsored atheist centers.

To say, listen, you can talk about the impact of individuals and what caused them to make decisions, unless they talk about the Bible or scripture from the Bible, then you've got a censor that out. You can't talk to kids about that. Well, that's an absurd position.


Our position is purely historical. When you're teaching a history class, when you're referencing individuals throughout your curriculum, that talk about the Bible, reference the Bible, you're going to include that and not lie to kids about American history.

BROWN: I just want to pick this apart a little bit. You said, otherwise, this is state-sponsored atheist centers. Supreme Court precedent actually is against what you're pushing for now.

In fact, in 1980, there was a Supreme Court case saying that it's unconstitutional to, for example, put the Ten Commandments in the classroom.

The First Amendment has the Establishment Clause saying Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free -- prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech. And it goes on, as you know.

So what do you say to that? It's not that these are -- this is just the separation of church and state. It's not an atheist center. It's -- it's that.

And that what you're doing, the critics have come out against you and said, look, you're trying to impose your conservative agenda on schools in Oklahoma. You're trying to impose your religious beliefs, your Christian religious beliefs on the students and teachers of Oklahoma.

What do you say to that?

WALTERS: You know what I would say to that is, you know, first of all, this is the history of the country. This is not pushing a religion on students. This is not telling them that they have to be of a certain faith. Not at all. It is teaching our history in an inaccurate way. The Bible would've

been found in every schoolhouse until the 1960s because of the prominence of it in American culture and American history.

We are going to bring the Bible back in every classroom here in the united -- here in Oklahoma, and every state should follow.

But I'm also going to say this. President Trump has actually put Originalists on the Supreme Court.

So now if this goes for it and we get sued on this and it goes the Supreme Court, President Trump has led the way for the Supreme Court to actually look back at what the Constitution says, not what a bunch of liberal judges have said that it says.

And we feel very confident we'll win the day. Thanks to President Trump's appointees on the Supreme Court, we can absolutely put the Bible back in school.

BROWN: Well, we will have to see about that.

And one could argue, if you're an Originalist, you would look at the Establishment Clause and look at the banning of religious test for office holders.

But to also have the other argument. But you make your case. My job is not to take one side or the other. My job is to challenge different points of view.

And we appreciate you coming on to share your point of view on this issue that will impact every student and teacher family there in Oklahoma.

Ryan Walters, thank you.

WALTERS: Thank you.

BROWN: Up next, after Jamie Foxx says his mysterious medical emergency last year began with a bad headache. The new details he's revealing about the scare.



KEILAR: Actor Jamie Foxx is opening up about his mysterious health -- mysterious health scare that shocked fans and sidelined his career.

He was suddenly hospitalized in April of last year while he was shooting a film in Atlanta. But details surrounding what exactly happened were really tightly guarded until now.

CNN entertainment reporter, Lisa Respers France, is here with us.

Lisa, what's he revealing? LISA RESPERS FRANCE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Brianna, he's still

hasn't given us a definite diagnosis as to what happened. But he is sharing details. And we found that out because of a video that was shared on social media.

Let's take a listen.


JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: That's what happened. (INAUDIBLE)

They told me I'm going to (INAUDIBLE).


FRANCE: Yes. So he says in the video that he's not going to say exactly what happened. But he does motion to his head and says that the doctor told him that something was going on up there. And so at least we have some details as to exactly what happened.

If you listen to what he just said, he had a bad headache. He asked his friend for him for Advil and then he says, the next thing he knew, it was 20 days later.

So we all knew it was very serious, but Jamie Foxx is also an extremely private person and he just has not wanted to share until now it appears.

KEILAR: Yes, so many people have been concerned for him. It is really interesting to see him as well, Lisa, to see him interacting with folks and to be doing well now.

Lisa France, thank you so much for the report. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the FDA has just approved a new drug to treat Alzheimer's. We'll have that ahead.



KEILAR: Let's go to the White House briefing where the press secretary is answering questions about the president's health.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we have reached out during the debate, the president had a cold. He had a hoarse voice. You all heard it. That's why you reached out.

But I will say this, and the president said this over the past couple of days, certainly right after the debate, he knows how to do the job. And he knows how to do the job. Not because he says it. Because his record proofs it.

Because for three-and-a-half years, almost four years, the record -- the president's record has been unprecedented, delivering for the American people. Another thing that he said that I would add is he --


JEAN-PIERRE: Speaker Pelosi, who's very close to the president, said it is not about performance in terms of a debate. It's about performance in a presidency.

And this is a president, you've heard me say this. We've talked about this. He's been able to give us an economic recovery, the strongest economic recovery in modern history.

Let's not forget, during the midterms of 2020, many people, many of you all, some of you in this room, said that it was going to be a red wave and that didn't happen.

He defeated Big Pharma. We have seen a historic low in crime in more than -- down to a 50-year low. And then you had Representative Clyburn said the president has done a great job leading for the last three the half years. The best predictor of future behavior is past performance. This is from Clyburn.

And when you look at the record of President Biden versus former President Trump, you see President Biden, who has delivered the strongest recovery in modern history, versus the previous administration whose plans hurts the middle class.

And President Biden, who is committed to protecting our fundamental freedoms versus the former -- the former president, the previous administration, doing everything that they could, and they did, to overturn Roe v. Wade. And they are responding ansible for that.

And those are -- that's coming from two people who are not just leaders in Congress, but also close to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I think part of the problem that Democrats are articulating is that it wasn't just that he had a cold, but rather he had no answers. He was trailing off. He didn't answer some questions in a fulsome way.

And speaking of Nancy Pelosi, one of the things that she recently said was that it was a legitimate question whether his performance was an episode or condition.

So I guess I'm wondering if there's been any consideration given to like releasing a more robust set of medical records or something to show his mental acuity.

JEAN-PIERRE: So I will say this. Look, and again, I get the question. It is a fair question to ask. We're not taking that away. And that's why the president certainly has spoken to this.

As it relates to his medical records, we have been transparent. We have released thorough reports from his medical team every year since he's been in office. That is something that we have been pretty consistent about. [14:55:00]

As it relates to something like a cognitive test to the question that you're asking me about, what the speaker, former speaker said. Obviously, she can speak for herself.

His team, who has said, the medical team said it is not warranted in this case. We have put forward a thorough, transparent annual report on his health.

So they have said that is not warranted. It is not necessary.

Again, we understand. We understand. We're not taking away from what you all saw and what the American people saw. We understand. It was a bad night. It is not uncommon for incumbents to have a bad night on their first debate.

And we are going to continue to do the work that we have been doing on behalf of the American people. I think the president work record certainly speaks for itself.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Karine, you just reminded us that President Biden had a cold on Thursday. What medications was he taking in the days or hours leading up to the debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: And I can -- I know that question has come a couple of times to us. He is not taking any cold medication.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was he taking any medication that would have interfered --


JEAN-PIERRE: He was not taking any cold medications? That is what I can speak to. I've asked his doctor, and that's what he stated to us.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: After the debate, did the president get examined by a doctor or did he get a neurological scan?

JEAN-PIERRE: A neurological scan? Look, what I can say is that -- just to take a step back -- it was a bad night. We understand that it was a bad night.

And the president has spoken to this. And he understands that. And so I cannot speak to anything beyond what I just shared. The president has regular annual physicals that we release in a thorough report.

We're going to continue to do that. I don't have anything else beyond that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So was the last time he was seen by a doctor then was in February?

JEAN-PIERRE: I just don't have anything beyond that -- beyond the question of a neurological exam.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK? What you continue to say is it was just a bad night. But is there an explanation then for why it was so bad? If it's not his stamina, if he prepared, as you guys say, for so long, if it's not a problem with his mental fitness, what happened that night? What did we see?

JEAN-PIERRE: I will also add that the president also spoke to this as well. He said, "I'm not as smooth as I used to be. I don't debate as well as I used to. I don't walk as easily as I used to."

But one thing that he knows is how to deliver for the American people. He understand that. He understands that he's not a young man, obviously. He said this.

And what his focus is going to continue to deliver for the American people on the -- on the issues that they care about, the economy, expanding health care, fighting for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security.

Making sure that we continue to be leaders on the world stage, which is something that this president has been able to do. And turn -- you know, turn around the mess, the mess that this last administration created.

That certainly on -- on not just domestically, but on the world stage.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is anyone in the White House hiding information about the president's health or his ability to do the job day-to-day?

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Given the fact that it's more than a bad night when his political future is threatened, would he be willing to provide more medical information? Would he be willing to have Dr. O'Connor provide more to answer these questions?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I certainly understand the question. I appreciate the question. But what we have provided has been very transparent.



JEAN-PIERRE: February of this year, it wasn't too long ago, it was, indeed, this year. And we we're -- we we're -- we provided a transparent report for --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: For many Americans who we're concerned about his capacity, was he OK? What happened? And we've now gone several days where he has only done teleprompter comments. He's not taken questions.

I know you've announced a press conference, yes, I appreciate that -- (LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- and an interview. We appreciate that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But there is a period of time here where the public is trying to understand what happened. And the president could help to answer that by engaging with us in an unscripted way right now.


JEAN-PIERRE: So let me just say a couple of things. There's a couple of things that you said that I do want to address.

Number one, hours, I don't know, less than an hour after the debate, he went and he engaged directly with the American people, right? He went to a watch party. He was in a room with hundreds of supporters who watched the debate.

And when he walked in, they cheered him on. And he did a photo line with them for some time.