State Question 790 Addresses More Than The Ten Commandments
OKLAHOMA CITY - The second-to-last state question on your ballot aims to repeal the Oklahoma law separating church and state.
Passage of State Question 790 could potentially mean a comeback for the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, but it could also impact schools and churches.
A Hindu group already announced plans to install a statue of one of their own gods if SQ 790 passes, but other religious leaders argue it could put Oklahoma's public schools in jeopardy.
Oklahoma takes separation of church and state a step further than the U.S. Constitution, expressly prohibiting the government from supporting religion either directly or indirectly.
Pastors like Mitch Randall say historically, independence allows religious groups to be the much-needed voices of reason and conscience without money getting in the way.
“When that wall is dismantled and the money begins to flow into the church, then we lose our prophetic voice,” he said.
Randall said removing that barrier would also be the first step towards allowing taxpayer money to pay for education at religious private schools, crippling the public school system.
“It would not surprise me if this were to pass that state legislators immediately begin to mount a voucher system within this state,” said Randall.
Supporters of SQ 790 like Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon, say since the Supreme Court already ruled against the Ten Commandments monument, other public entities could be the next target.
“A good example would be a Salvation Army bell ringer can no longer ring that bell on public property,” said Jordan.
Jordan also thinks if the law remains, public healthcare providers like Medicaid, Medicare and SoonerCare will not be able to pay for services at religious-affiliated hospitals.
“You end up with school districts, cities, counties facing lawsuits with anything that can be perceived as being important to a particular religion or sect,” he said.
Whether or not SQ 790 passes, the establishment clause in the U.S. Constitution is still the law of the land and the government still cannot pay or show support for a religious group.