Protect separation of church and state in schools
  1. United States
  2. Okla.
  3. Letter

Protect separation of church and state in schools

To: Sen. Rogers, Rep. Nichols, Gov. Stitt

From: A constituent in Tulsa, OK

May 29

The proposed bill would require every school district in Oklahoma to allow students to be excused from regular classes to attend religious or moral instruction courses off school grounds, referred to as "released time courses". While religious freedom is important, mandating that all districts provide release time raises concerns about protecting the separation of church and state in public education. It essentially enables religious institutions to directly access a captive audience of students during the school day. Moreover, allowing students to receive academic credit for released time courses taught by uncertified instructors sets a problematic precedent. These courses may not meet the same educational standards or oversight as regular school curriculum. There are also equity issues, as families without the means to access these private religious programs would be at a disadvantage. Rather than legislating release time statewide, decisions around religious accommodations would be better left to local school boards who understand the unique needs and demographics of their communities. A blanket policy fails to account for these nuances. As representatives, I urge you to reconsider this overreaching mandate that could undermine the integrity of public education and uphold the separation of church and state.

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