May 2016 Church & State - May 2015

Okla. Seeks To Alter Church-State Provisions

  AU admin

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has taken a step toward removing the state constitution’s clause prohib­iting aid to churches, denominations and religious schools.

In March, legislators passed a resolution to place the so-called “no-aid” clause on the ballot, giving voters an opportunity to remove it.

The move was inspired by ongoing controversy over the fate of a Ten Commandments monument. That monument stood on the grounds of the state capitol until last June, when the state Supreme Court ordered it removed in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a coalition of taxpayers. Bruce Prescott, an Americans United chapter activist and Southern Baptist minister, was among the plaintiffs.

Mitch Randall, a Baptist minister based in Norman, wrote on his church’s blog that the push to change the constitution invokes the state’s sordid history.

“If successful, they will be taking a big step backwards in returning our state to a time when religious persecution was acceptable under Colonialism and Native Americans were forced to worship as those in authority dictated,” Randall argued.

The resolution, H.J.R. 1062, passed 86-10. A vote is pending in the state Senate.

BREAKING NEWS

Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.


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