Drummond argues religious liberty case before Oklahoma Supreme Court

Ponca City Now - April 3, 2024 6:09 am

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 2, 2024) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond Tuesday argued before the Oklahoma Supreme Court against the unconstitutional approval of what would be the nation’s first taxpayer-funded, state-sponsored religious public charter school. 

Drummond emphasized that the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s approval of St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School in June 2023 violates the Oklahoma Constitution and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment’s establishment clause. He said the school intertwines church and state, removing all separation between the two.

“In this instance, the church and the state are joint venturers. The charter has formed a first-in-the-nation actual union of church and state,” Drummond told the justices. “This case is not about the exclusion of a religious entity from government aid, which implicates the Free Exercise of Religion. Rather, it is about the state’s creation of a public religious school.”

St. Isidore’s application and charter expressly provide for Catholic instruction and the creation of a school that is “Catholic in every way,” criteria that Drummond said means the religious instruction is attributed to the state.

He noted the school differs from private schools that accept vouchers from parents because in the case of St. Isidore, the state would be establishing the school and providing taxpayer funds directly to the school.

Drummond has been steadfast in his opposition to taxpayer-funded religion. He has said that U.S. Supreme Court precedent requires equal treatment of religions, which means if Oklahoma funds a Catholic charter school like St. Isidore, then the state would also be forced to fund a radical Islamic charter school and a Scientology school.

“Today, we’re discussing funding Catholicism; tomorrow we may be forced to fund radical Muslim teachings like Sharia law,” Drummond has said.

 

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