We learned about this from the Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. That state is considering an amendment to its constitution, which is being called the State Question 790 — Oklahoma Public Money for Religious Purposes. According to that article at the BallotPedia website, it’s a constitutional amendment on the 08 November 2016 ballot. They say:
The measure, upon voter approval, would repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes. Passage of the measure would allow the Ten Commandments monument to be returned to the Capitol.
This is the current provision of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, which may be repealed:
Article II: BILL OF RIGHTS, Section 5: No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.
That looks like Blaine Amendment language that prohibits state funding of religious organizations. Such language is now found in 38 state constitutions. Florida has such a provision in its constitution and they considered repealing it a few years ago — see Florida’s Theocratic Constitutional Amendment, but it didn’t pass. Repealing such a constitutional provision would be pretty much the exact opposite of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
According to BallotPedia, the November ballot will have this proposal:
This measure repeals Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. This section prohibits the use of public monies or property for sectarian or religious purposes.
SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED?
They also say:
A simple majority vote was required in both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature in order to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. On March 7, 2016, the Oklahoma Senate passed SJR 72, with 39 senators voting in favor and five voting against. The House approved the measure on April 21, 2016, with 65 representatives in favor and seven against.
This looks bad. Very bad. We’ll keep an eye on it.
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