Oklahoma bill expanding religious freedom to government contracts heads to governor’s desk


Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) attends a roundtable at the White House in Washington, DC June 18, 2020. / Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead (public domain)

Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2023 / 09:30 am (CNA).

Legislation that would expand religious freedom protections to include government contracts and receiving government funding passed both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Oklahoma law prohibits government entities from imposing a “substantial burden” on a person’s free exercise of religion “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The Religious Freedom Act, which now awaits Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signature, would expand the definition of a substantial burden to include contracts with the government or the receipt of state funds.

“It shall be deemed a substantial burden to exclude any person or entity from participation in or receipt of governmental funds, benefits, programs, or exemptions based solely on the religious character or affiliation of the person or entity,” the legislation reads.

The bill passed the Senate 38-7 and the House 64-27 with support from most Republicans and opposition from most Democrats.

Some members of the Democratic leadership objected to the legislation because they felt it could pave the way for public funding of religiously-affiliated charter schools.

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