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Column: Oklahoma edges out Texas in defending non secular liberty – Tulsa World


Oklahoma has 33,000 lecturers who’re licensed, however select to not educate. Ginnie Graham and Bob Doucette speak in regards to the state’s trainer scarcity forcing districts to depend on emergency certifications and extra. Plus, why are extremists harassing our county election board staff?

A brand new rating of spiritual liberty throughout the nation finds Oklahoma within the prime third of all states, inserting sixteenth within the nation. Considerably, Oklahoma is a number of steps forward of our outspoken neighbor to the south, Texas, which is available in twenty fifth.

Each states have important room for enchancment if our precise authorized protections for non secular liberty are going to meet up with our vocal help of it.

Religious Liberty in the States is the primary empirical examine of the authorized safeguards for non secular liberty throughout the complete United States. By specializing in codified protections in statutory and constitutional regulation, the venture is ready to measure the variation amongst states and rank them accordingly.

The index covers 11 totally different safeguards made up of 29 totally different gadgets. These safeguards vary from offering different alternatives to vote when polling days fall on non secular holidays to offering exemptions for fogeys for immunizations for his or her kids that battle with their non secular beliefs.

Individuals are additionally studying…

The cumulative result’s a set of protections which have been enacted by at the very least one state someplace within the nation. This real-world set of safeguards units the boundary for what the venture measures, that means {that a} 100% rating would outcome if a state had all of the safeguards in place that have been already in existence on the state stage in America.

There are two most important safeguards by which Oklahoma does extra to guard non secular liberty than Texas — alternatives for absentee voting and well being care exemptions.

Texas is one in every of solely 10 states that doesn’t enable for absentee voting as a result of non secular holidays or different non secular causes. Oklahoma, nevertheless, not solely presents protections within the space of voting, but it surely makes use of essentially the most versatile method, which is to permit residents to vote absentee with out being requested to supply a cause for why they can not vote in individual.

Within the space of well being care exemptions, neither Oklahoma nor Texas is excelling. Whereas each states defend the best of a person practitioner or a personal hospital to refuse to carry out an abortion, Oklahoma goes one step additional and protects the refuser from civil legal responsibility.

Nevertheless, these protections solely account for 2 (Texas) and three (Oklahoma) out of the doable 20 safeguards within the space of well being care exemptions that the venture tracks, that means there’s a number of room for enchancment on this space for each states.

For instance, whereas physicians and different well being care staff are protected in the event that they work out of their very own workplace or at a personal hospital, Oklahoma doesn’t lengthen these non secular exemptions to well being care suppliers working at a public hospital.

The one space the place Texas outperforms Oklahoma is within the space of defending the best to refuse participation in marriage and weddings. Oklahoma solely protects the best of clergy to refuse participation, however Texas extends these protections to spiritual and tax-exempt organizations.

Neither state presently protects public officers or personal companies, equivalent to photographers or caterers. The one state to guard the best of refusal to take part in weddings for all 5 of those teams is Mississippi, the top-ranked state within the venture.

As this exhibits, there are quite a few ways in which Oklahoma’s legislators can act to develop and strengthen our state’s dedication to spiritual liberty. Whereas Oklahoma ranks sixteenth within the nation on this scale, that corresponds to a complete rating of solely 43%. Texas, serving because the median rating (twenty fifth out of fifty), has a complete rating of solely 39%.

Because of this new rating system, states can now see how they stack up in opposition to their neighbors and in opposition to different states everywhere in the nation. Whereas Oklahoma has finished properly relative to a lot of its friends, there stays nice room for enchancment.

Hiram Sasser is govt basic counsel for First Liberty Institute and is an adjunct regulation professor at Oklahoma Metropolis College College of Legislation.


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