Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks State Funding of Religious Charter School

Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks State Funding of Religious Charter School

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on June 25 against the founding of the country’s first-ever public religious charter school.

The state’s contract creating a publicly funded religious charter school violates state and federal law and is unconstitutional, the court wrote, siding with Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a Republican, in his challenge to the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School.

“Under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school. As such, a charter school must be nonsectarian,” the court stated. “However, St. Isidore will evangelize the Catholic faith as part of its school curriculum while sponsored by the State.

“This State’s establishment of a religious charter school violates Oklahoma statutes, the Oklahoma Constitution, and the Establishment Clause. St. Isidore cannot justify its creation by invoking Free Exercise rights as a religious entity.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, had supported the creation of the religious charter school and expressed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court might reverse the decision.

“I’m concerned we’ve sent a troubling message that religious groups are second-class participants in our education system,” Stitt said after the ruling. “Charter schools are incredibly popular in Oklahoma, and all we’re saying is: we can’t choose who gets state dollars based on a private entity’s religious status.

“Religious freedom is foundational to our values, and today’s decision undermines that freedom and restricts the choices available to Oklahomans.”

Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, expressed her disappointment in the ruling in The Washington Stand.

“The idea that Oklahomans are being forced to fund Catholicism by approving an online Catholic Charter school as an option for parents to select for their children is just absurd. … The only ‘religious sect’ that’s being publicly funded is the religion of atheism which catechizes via critical race theory and queer theory indoctrination in public schools across the country. Parents who complain about that are called domestic terrorists by educrats and DOJ officials. Governor Stitt has been a staunch defender of parental rights and common sense. It seems like the Oklahoma AG is out of touch with the grassroots and out of step with the governor.”

However, not all conservative evangelicals agree.

Richard Land, former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a longtime Southern Baptist ethicist, wrote in a column for The Christian Post that while the proposed school would have set “admirable goals for adherents of the Catholic faith … they cannot be accomplished through a public school funded [directly] by public tax funds,” he said.

“Let me be clear, I would oppose such a sectarian charter school if it were Baptist,” Land argued, adding that there is a distinction between the government directly funding a religious school and “the government providing parents with vouchers or tax credits to help underwrite their children’s education at a private school of their choice.”

Photo: unsplash.com

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

About Us     Contact Us     Privacy
©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.