Support religious freedom for all Oklahomans and State Question 790
By U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Todd Lamb
On Nov. 8, by voting Yes on State Question 790, Oklahomans will have the chance to directly increase their religious freedom, a rare opportunity in this age when liberal courts and governments are actively seeking to narrow religious liberties.
We support SQ 790 because it would remove from Oklahoma’s Constitution the “Blaine Amendment” a provision added in the 19th century during a time of anti-Catholic prejudice for the primary purpose of preventing Catholic schools – and Catholic orphanages, hospitals and charities – from receiving any government benefits.
These provisions, were at one time present in the Constitutions of nearly every state, and their history steeped in bigotry has never been in dispute. As the United States Supreme Court noted in Mitchell v. Helms (2000), Blaine Amendments have a “shameful pedigree” rooted in “pervasive hostility to the Catholic Church and to Catholics in general.”
Over time, these provisions have gone beyond bigotry against Catholics and been used to curtail religious freedom of all kinds. Oklahoma’s Blaine Amendment was cited by the state Supreme Court in 2015 when it ruled that the provision prohibited the display of a Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Van Orden v. Perry (2005) that a display of Ten Commandments on public property does not necessarily violate the U.S. Constitution.