BNN Breaking News

Oklahoma Grapples with Legal Battle Over First Publicly-Funded Religious Charter School

January 10, 2024

(BNN Breaking News)—In a landmark case in Oklahoma, a legal dispute has emerged over the establishment of the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic School (SISVCS). If approved, it would be the first publicly funded religious charter school in the United States. The contention arises from the state’s Attorney General, Gentner Drummond, who has challenged the approval of the school by the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, arguing it infringes on the principle of religious liberty.

The Legal Controversy

The lawsuit, brought to the fore in October, has ignited a fierce debate. Drummond’s stance is that the approval of SISVCS infringes on the liberty of taxpayers who are obliged to support a specific religious faction. He expresses concerns over setting a precedent leading to the sanctioning of schools teaching ideologies such as Sharia Law, a prospect he believes most Oklahomans would find distressing. However, he has emphasized that his opposition extends to the funding of any religious charter school teaching such content, not expressly the Catholic charter school.

Political Tensions and Constitutional Questions

The political landscape of Oklahoma has been stirred by the legal battle. Governor Kevin Stitt has described the lawsuit as a political stunt and pledged his support for religious and educational freedom. Meanwhile, the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) and the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty (JCRL) have rallied behind the school. They have filed an amicus brief, arguing that Drummond’s hostility against minority religions breaches the First Amendment.

Ongoing Deliberations

The case is currently under the consideration of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The outcome will not only affect the fate of SISVCS but also could set a precedent for the future of religious education funding in the United States. At the heart of the dispute are fundamental questions about the separation of church and state, the interpretation of religious liberty, and the role of publicly funded education. The decision of the court is eagerly awaited.