(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 1/21/15) — The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR-OK) today called on Senator Kyle Loveless to drop his proposed Senate Bill 48 that states school districts will incur “no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible.”
Critics say the bill is a dangerous encroachment into the separation of church and state and is slanted to support the teaching of a particular interpretation of the Bible as truth, not open to people of other faiths or no faith at all.
In a statement release today, CAIR-OK's Veronica Laizure said:
“The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids the government from making a law respecting an 'establishment of religion.' This phrase has been interpreted over the years to mean that the state may not provide aid to religion, allow it to intrude into state functions, or sponsor any religious doctrines or symbols. Any statute that does so must have a secular legislative purpose, not have a primary effect that advances or inhibits religion, and not foster an 'excessive government entanglement' with religion.
“Based on American legal history and jurisprudence, a public school course that purports to teach the Bible as a religious text clearly violates the First Amendment's prohibition on promoting an 'establishment of religion.' Its intent is to promote a particular vision of the Bible as a true interpretation. It lacks a secular purpose and it entangles the government in a religious discussion that is inappropriate and impermissible. The state may not endorse one religion over all others and promote its views in public school classes, regardless of whether attendance is compelled or not.
“Further, Sen. Loveless's proposed bill is quite simply unconstitutional. A state cannot erase its liability arising under federal law for a violation of the Constitution.”
CAIR-OK believes in the importance of dialogue, diversity and the ideals of promoting religious pluralism in society provided that any laws proposed by government are constitutional and reflect our diverse society.
CAIR-Oklahoma is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialog, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-Oklahoma Executive Director Adam Soltani, 405-415-6851 (office) or 405-248-5853 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org