As Oklahoma Moves to Make Religious Charter Schools Legal, Some Religious Leaders Fear Forced Indoctrination in Public Schools is Next - and They Do Not Like the Idea.
Religious schools have always been a thing. Catholic schools, Christian schools, Jewish schools, whatever private schools parents wanted their children to attend – as long as parents wanted to pay. Taxpayers were never on the hook for funding these types of school choices.
You know, the Constitution – Separation of Church and State and all that.
But now, In Oklahoma, a lame duck attorney general has taken the next step in requiring taxpayers to fund religious education. He believes that SCOTUS would “very likely” find Oklahoma’s charter law restriction on nonsectarian or religious charters unconstitutional. Therefore, his opinion is that the state should no longer follow the law forbidding taxpayer funded sectarian or religious charter schools.
The Oklahoma AG’s opinion relies on three Supreme Court cases decided in the last few years, most notably Carson v. Makin which struck down a law barring state funds for religious education.
Justice Sotomayor, when dissenting on Carson, noted that, “in just a few years, the Court has upended constitutional doctrine, shifting from a rule that permits States to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.”
According to Baptists News Global, after noting that Baptists have always been opposed to publicly funded religious schools, quotes the founder of ‘Pastors for Oklahoma Kids’ as saying, “the last thing the devout religious folks of Oklahoma need is for their state to entangle itself in the establishment of religion through the funding of religious schools... All true religion, whether in congregation or classroom, is voluntary and free. It must remain unencumbered by state intrusion.”
To those with a religious leaning, a religious education for their children may seem like a good thing, but Politico reports in their journal ‘Weekly Education’ that civil rights leaders warn, “It is a whole other ballgame for the state to instruct children on religious doctrine and teach it as truth. State dollars in public schools, delivering instruction to children preaching religion as a way of life that must be adhered to. That is staggering.”
Despite the prohibitions of the First Amendment, if upheld by the Supreme Court, any state would be free to change its laws to accommodate religious conservatives who want to use taxpayer dollars to educate children in any religious doctrine under the guise of 'charter schools'.