Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement in response to the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board’s action today on the charter application of St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School:
“It’s hard to think of a clearer violation of the religious freedom of Oklahoma taxpayers and public-school families than the state establishing the nation’s first religious public charter school. This would be a sea change for American democracy. We will say it again: We urge the board to reject any application for a virtual charter school that includes a religious curriculum or engages in religion-based discrimination.
“State and federal law are clear: Charter schools are public schools that must be secular and open to all students. No public-school family should fear that their child will be required by charter schools to take theology classes or be expelled for failing to conform to religious doctrines. And the government should never force anyone to fund religious education. In a country built on the principle of separation of church and state, public schools must never be allowed to become Sunday schools. Americans United will work with our Oklahoma and national partners to defend the separation of church and state that’s promised in both the Oklahoma and U.S. Constitutions.”
AU’s Detailed Legal Analysis Explained Why Application Should Be Rejected
In letters, memos and in-person testimony, Americans United provided detailed legal analysis explaining why the board should reject the application from the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Diocese of Tulsa to create the nation’s first religious public charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School.
AU also explained why former Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor’s opinion that the state should allow public charter schools to teach religious curricula was wrong and contrary to the U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution and the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act. AU praised the Feb. 23 decision of current Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond to withdraw O’Connor’s incorrect opinion.
- AU’s March 17 letter regarding St. Isidore’s Feb. 14 presentation
- Feb. 14 testimony from AU Senior Litigation Counsel Kenneth Upton, a native of Oklahoma and an Oklahoma City University School of Law alum
- AU’s Feb. 10 letter regarding the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s application
- AU’s Jan. 31 letter refuting the former AG’s opinion
- AU’s Jan. 31 legal analysis refuting the former AG’s opinion
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications