Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged Oklahoma’s attorney general to rule against government funding of “faith-based” groups.
In an Oct. 29 letter to Attorney General W.A. Drew Edmondson, Americans United argued that “faith-based” grants proposed by the legislature violate the state constitution’s church-state separation. A provision of the Oklahoma Constitution states that “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….”
An Oklahoma legislator has asked Edmondson to issue legal opinions on whether the state can fund the Oklahoma Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and provide a $100,000 grant to a religious group to help prisoners integrate back into the community.
AU’s letter to Edmondson noted that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s constitutional provision on aid to religious entities is more restrictive than the First Amendment.