We teach the Bible to public school students. Critics should stop freaking out about it.

The red bus arrives at Beechwood Elementary School in Whitehall, Ohio, throughout the day. About 15 students pile on each time, then it drives a few blocks to a church down the street. For the next 40 minutes, the students learn basic biblical teaching alongside virtues such as honesty, integrity and kindness.

When the lessons are over, they get on the bus and head back to school to finish the day.

All told, about 500 kids in the school district participate each week. They’re engaged and their parents are thrilled, which is why they keep coming back and even bring friends.

This scene plays out weekly at more than 300 public schools in 12 states, reaching more than 30,000 kids. That’s a huge increase from the two schools our organization started with in 2019; and this year, we may grow by hundreds more.

The schools can be found in major cities, suburban communities and rural towns, reflecting the fact that Christian families live everywhere. When told that their kids can receive religious education during the school day, many parents jump at the opportunity. They want their values to infuse their children’s formation, not only on Sundays but throughout the week. More than 75% of participants in a national survey conducted for our organization by RMG Research said they want moral and character education in public schools.

But some people don’t want that. As our organization has grown, we’ve faced pushback from a small number of critics, especially teachers unions.

The news media also have weighed in. This month, MSNBC broadcast a report critical of our work, and in March, it was NBC News that gave a platform to those who claim we're indoctrinating public schools students in religious dogma and molding today's students into tomorrow's right-wing voters.

We teach students to love their neighbors

And I thought we were helping young minds understand what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

The attacks share a common denominator, accusing us of shattering the separation of church and state. But no one exemplifies the separation of church and state more than us.

Trump is selling Bibles: I hope Trump reads about welcoming immigrants in the Bibles he's peddling

We’re following rules outlined by the Supreme Court in the 1952 case Zorach v. Clauson. The court ruled that public school students could receive religious instruction during the school day so long as three conditions are met.

First, the teaching can’t happen on school grounds. Second, it can’t be funded with taxpayer money. Third, parents must approve before their children participate.

Supreme Court has set rules we must follow

We follow these rules to the letter because that’s what the Constitution and human dignity demand. For those reasons, the attacks against us are laughable.

We’re told the Bible has no place in school. No problem: We teach it outside of school.

We’re told public school teachers shouldn’t teach religion. No problem: We use volunteers who aren’t on the public payroll.

We’re told that parents shouldn’t be forced to send their kids to religion class. Not possible: We go only to schools where the community expresses interest, and teach only those students whose parents give their express consent.

Many of these families don’t have the money to send their kids to a religious school. Many live in communities that don’t have religious schools. We help them pass on their values to their children in a form of school choice. Best of all, it can exist where traditional school choice doesn’t.

The real goal of these attacks is to stifle more schools from working with us. As part of our mission, we ask state lawmakers and local school boards to pass policies that adhere to the Supreme Court’s guidance. Many states have laws on the books, some better than others, that allow off-campus religious instruction.

Some states say public schools “may” release students for religious instruction, but the better laws say public schools “shall” do so if parents request it. That’s the best way for public schools to give families the choices they want, while respecting the wishes of those who want nothing to do with religion.

Americans want a religious president. They just don't see Trump or Biden that way.

Sadly, the fearmongering about church and state has worked in some places. A small number of school boards have repealed their religious release policies after a local media story or activist campaign.

We’ve even seen people set up public school “Satan Clubs” in what appears to be an attempt to stoke an overreaction from religious parents. They know the easiest way to block a Satan Club is to have the school board repeal the policy that allows outside religious education. But we don’t mind competing with a Satan Club. We’re confident that Jesus Christ will win.

Opinion alerts: Get columns from your favorite columnists + expert analysis on top issues, delivered straight to your device through the USA TODAY app. Don't have the app? Download it for free from your app store.

Families deserve the freedom to send their public school students to private religious classes. Parents want it. Students enjoy it. And in the schools where we operate, teachers routinely thank us for it, because evidence shows that our character-based teaching increases attendance and decreases suspensions.

It says a lot that so many families are flocking to the Bible-based teaching we provide. It says a lot more that so few people want to stop them.

Joel Penton is founder and CEO of LifeWise Academy.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can public school students learn the Bible? Here's how we do it