Red State Passes Bill Allowing Religious Institutions Access To State Funding

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday protecting religious institutions from being denied access to state funding.

The Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act was introduced by Republican state Sen. Shane Jett and Republican state Sen. Julie Daniels to further reinforce the First Amendment by preventing the state from denying faith-based groups access to taxpayer dollars, according to the bill. The legislature passed the act Tuesday by a 64 to 27 vote, officially sending the act to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk to be signed into law. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Bob Good Moves To Roll Back Biden Rule Discriminating Against Faith-Based Contractors)

The bill makes way for religious institutions to access state funding by barring the state from denying applications for funding “based solely on the religious character or affiliation of the person or entity.” The act adds to religious protections the state passed in 2021 preventing the government from declaring church activities non-essential, as was often the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Governors and small business owners on the reopening of American’s small business. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 18: Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) speaks during a roundtable at the State Dining Room of the White House June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

However, some Democrats argued that the bill was an unnecessary addition to the First Amendment, according to, a local media outlet. One Democratic state representative warned that the bill could lead to government funding of religious activities at religious schools.

“It is a substantial burden on the people of Oklahoma to force them to pay for the religious activities of a religious-sponsored school,” Democratic state Rep. Andy Fugate told “Turning Monday school into Sunday school.”

Republican state Rep. John Echols, who co-authored the bill, disagreed with his colleague’s assessment, according to

“Replace the word religion with the word gender in the bill, replace the word religion with the word sex in the bill, and this would be unthinkable to have a two-hour debate over,” Echols said.

Oklahoma has been at the center of this discussion for some time. Earlier this month, Gov. Stitt and state Attorney General Gentner Drummond clashed over a Catholic charter school application that would have created the first state-funded religious charter school in the nation. The application was temporarily denied by the state’s virtual charter board but will be voted on again in the coming weeks. Stitt told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he was disappointed by the the attorney general’s response to the charter and continued to hope that Oklahoma would host the nation’s first state-funded religious charter school, providing more options for parents.

Stitt, Jett, Daniels and Echols did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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