Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from a spokesperson for Attorney General Gentner Drummond.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma sent a letter to Attorney General Gentner Drummond Monday indicating that he was “troubled” by a recent opinion the AG gave regarding religious charter schools.
Drummond issued an opinion late last week recanting his predecessor, John O’Conner’s, support of religious charter schools calling it “state-funded religion.” Stitt responded to Drummond’s claims Monday, arguing that by not providing religious citizens with an alternative, they may very well be forced to choose between their faith and receiving an education, according to the letter. (RELATED: Vermont Christian School Forfeits Basketball Tournament To Protest Trans Athlete On Opposing Team)
“You state that ‘religious liberty is one of our most fundamental freedoms’ that protects the ‘right to worship according to our faith’ and to be ‘free from any duty that conflicts with our faith,'” Stitt wrote. “But religious liberty does more. Religious liberty also precludes the government from singling out believers for disfavor or preventing them from fully participating in public life, including in public-benefits programs.”
Today I sent a letter to the Attorney General in support of religious charter schools.
As Governor, I support not only the pluralism promoted by Oklahoma charter school laws but also the religious liberty of all Oklahomans.https://t.co/isVuudBPBS
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) February 27, 2023
The Oklahoma governor pointed to past precedent showing that religious organizations cannot be excluded from programs for “private organizations who help serve the public good,” according to the letter. Stitt cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carson v. Makin, in which the justices determined that the state of Maine could not exclude religious schools from its tuition assistance program, noting that charter schools in Oklahoma are under similar jurisdiction.
Stitt also noted his concern about Drummond’s argument that if one religious charter was approved then all religious charters must be approved, according to the letter.
“Finally, I am troubled by the allegation that approval of the SISCVS application portends a ‘slippery slope’ that might open the door to charter schools sponsored by all faiths,” Stitt said. “Oklahomans support religious liberty for all, Christian and non-Christian alike. And so do I.”
The charter had been requested by several Catholic groups hoping to establish an online school in line with their traditional Catholic beliefs, according to reimaginED, a communication site for Step Up For Students, a Florida nonprofit “scholarship funding organization.”
The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board (SWCSB) submitted the request to Drummond for his opinion earlier this month and will likely decide whether or not to approve the charter in April.
A spokesperson for Drummond told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the AG “continues to support religious liberty and protect taxpayers from being forced to fund religious charter schools.”
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