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Oklahoma Bill Proposes Fining Teachers With Anti-Christian Messages

May 20th, 2022

A prayer group at a West Virginia public school has drawn significant attention from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Oklahoma considers a bill that would permit fining teachers if they provide opposing views to the religious beliefs of students. 

An Oklahoma republican legislator recently introduced a bill that would permit fining teachers and initiating legal action against them if they provide an opposing viewpoint to any religious beliefs held by a student. 

The Measure on Fining Teachers

Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge introduced Under the Student’s Religious Belief Protection Act, which proposes fining teachers $10,000 an incident per individual. 

Parents under the measure are allowed to bring an action against either the school or teacher and in these situations, parents can pursue the following remedies:

  • Parents can request an injunction forcing the school and the teacher to refrain from any type of activity promoting positions in opposition to a student’s “closely held” religious beliefs.
  • If the school does not promptly comply, the parent or guardian can refile against any and all workers of the school district who are directly or indirectly promoting these viewpoints. These individuals can be held liable for at least $10,000 in damages per incident per individual. The fines must be paid from personal resources. If the teachers cannot pay the fine, they would be terminated according to the terms of the bill. These individuals must pay the money out of their own pocket and if they receive any assistance, they will be terminated.
  • If the school does not perform either of these steps, they can face legal action again and any individuals who are directly or indirectly involved can be fired and prohibited from working at a public school in the state.

The measure will also let parents require the removal of any books viewed as anti-religious and covers various topics including the big bang theory and evolution. The regulation does not address what constitutes a “deeply held belief.” If passed, however, the bill would likely have a substantial impact on how various subjects including health and science are taught. 

The measure would effectively take away issues like LGBTQ+ rights, the big bang theory, and perhaps even birth control from things that teachers could discuss with students.

While it currently lacks co-sponsors, the measure has been referred to an Education Committee. If passed, the measure will become effective immediately.

Similar Measures to Restrict What Schools Can Teach

Senator Stanridge also recently proposed another regulation that would have prohibited books that included references to sex, identity, and gender from inclusion in public school libraries.

The prohibition of books at public schools has become a commonly-discussed issue among Republicans. One Texas representative even recently placed over 800 books on a watch list with some of these titles including subjects like LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice.

Additionally, a Tennessee school board recently prohibited the book Maus, which received the Pulitzer Prize. Maus is a graphic novel about the Holocaust, but due to the book’s use of profanity and an image of female nudity, the book has been labeled as inappropriate.

Documenting Religious Rights Cases

While many religious rights arose from the creation of the United States Constitution, cases continue to question the exact boundary of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog focuses on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in a way that can be easily understood by readers and that examines both sides of each argument.

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