WRE is operated by independent self-governing local councils made up of parents, pastors, Christian laity, community leaders, and people just like you. No taxes or public funds are used. WRE receives donations from local churches, civic organizations, private individuals and businesses.
The principles of Released-Time WRE were set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Zorach Decision (1952). The decision provides the continuing legal guidelines under which WRE is conducted. WRE provides to public school children what schools, by law, cannot provide and that is the spiritual guidance which is necessary for the development of the whole child.
The Virginia Weekday Religious Education Association is a non-profit 501(c) corporation composed of representation from each independent local council, a board of directors, and a state coordinator. The association provides regular conferences and meetings to encourage and educate released-time teachers. The association also assists in creating curriculum, promoting the interest of WRE throughout the State of Virginia, and offering as a forum for local councils to come together and share their needs, prayers, and successes.
Released-time began in 1914 in Gary, Indiana, by William Wirt, a Christian layman and superintendent of Gary schools. The results of a statewide high school Bible test which had been given to 18,434 students in 213 Virginia public schools were interpreted in numerous county Sunday School conventions. In almost every convention, WRE was proposed as a remedy for spiritual illiteracy in Virginia.
The Reverend Minor C. Miller of the Virginia Council of Churches initiated Weekday Religious Education in the mid 1920s and the first classes began in the Fall of 1929. By 1947, over 40% of all released-time classes were held in public school classrooms.
However, a legal challenge ensued and in 1952 the Zorach decision by the U. S. Supreme Court determined that released-time religious education was legal but as a result WRE Councils began moving Bible classes from public school property.
Allowable practices for schools accommodating WRE classes were set forth in Doe vs. Shenandoah in a 1990 decision that, in general, stated that school personnel may escort WRE students to and from the school property line; school personnel may make student enrollment lists available to WRE to the extent consistent with Va. Code § 22.1-287 and with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232(g) (B) (5).
In 2009 the State organization, Virginia Weekday Religious Education Association, was formed.
WRE is a biblically sound Christian curriculum that uses the Bible as its primary text. WRE classes are non-denominational and open to all students. The lessons are updated frequently in order to help children see the relevancy of the Bible to everyday living.
The WRE curriculum reinforces:
- Religious instruction received at home or in a church setting;
- Academic skills such as reading, geography, and biblical history;
- Character traits associated with the Virginia Standards of Learning.
The WRE classes include activities such as:
- Bible lesson;
- Scripture memory work;
- Old and New Testament map study;
- Bible Review games.