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Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules Against First Publicly-Funded Religious Charter School

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the charter of what would have been the nation’s first publicly funded religious school was unconstitutional, according to court records.

Oklahoma’s Virtual Charter School Board voted to approve an application for a virtual religious charter school in June 2023, but Republican state Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit in October to block the funding, calling it an “irreparable infringement on individual religious freedom” and an “unthinkable waste of taxpayer dollars.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court ultimately sided with Drummond on Tuesday, ruling in court papers that because “under Oklahoma law, charter schools are public schools,” “charter schools must be nonsectarian.”

The court’s ruling also found that the proposed Christian school violates the First Amendment’s separation of church and state clause, according to documents. Any appeal must be filed within 10 days of the ruling. (Related: Louisiana becomes first state to require Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools)

The board initially voted to reject an application from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa to create the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School over concerns about constitutionality. Oklahoma Catholic Conference Executive Director Brett Farley welcomed the legal challenge after the school’s application was later approved, allowing the courts to resolve legal questions about whether taxpayer funds could be used for such purposes.

When Drummond first filed his lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) praised him, saying the attorney general’s actions were consistent with the organization’s desire to remove religion from civic life. according to in a press release dated October 2023. The ACLU on Tuesday Praised He called the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision a “victory for separation of church and state.”

The ACLU and its state chapters have received millions of dollars in funding from left-wing donors, including George Soros’ philanthropic network, and grant funding records are available. show.

According to a press release, ACLU lawyers joined other groups, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in filing their own lawsuit seeking to block Oklahoma’s funding of the school. The nonprofits represented plaintiffs who opposed public funds being used to support an institution that allegedly discriminates against people because of their LGBTQ+ status and “indoctrinates students into one religion.”

Drummond’s office distanced itself from the ACLU, telling the Daily Caller News Foundation that “the ACLU lawsuit is a separate litigation in which our office is not involved.”

According to court records, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision was not unanimous, with Justice Dana Kuhn dissenting, reasoning that excluding private organizations from state contracts because of their religious affiliation violates the Religious Freedom Clause of the First Amendment.

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