House Democrats Reject Bill Allowing Public Dollars to be Used for Religious Chaplains in Public Schools

Tuesday, 09 April 2024 21:17

House Democrats Reject Bill Allowing Public Dollars to be Used for Religious Chaplains in Public Schools Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Democrats oppose SB36, which was originally related to the disclosure of law enforcement records, but it was shucked by the Republican Supermajority and the language was changed. The bill now would allow public schools to hire chaplains. 

The bill passed out of the House General Government Committee with 6 yeas and 2 nays, with House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Jared Deck, D-Norman, being the only nays. Leader Munson debated against the bill.

“This bill would use public dollars to fund religious purposes, which is not only unconstitutional, but the majority of Oklahomans have been clear that they want public dollars to stay in public schools,” Leader Munson said. “This legislation does not even define what a chaplain is, but it is clear it is meant to benefit one specific religion. We need to be honest about why this legislation was introduced, which is to push a religious agenda into public schools.”

Rep. Deck also debated against the bill, saying it was not ready for passage.

“I appreciate efforts to provide more services and resources to our public schools, but this is not the right legislation for that,” Deck said. “We need trained and certified mental health and career counselors in our schools, not just letting in more people off the street. Military chaplains go through extensive training and certification processes, as written, this bill allows anyone with an online certification into our classrooms. Oklahomans and our students deserve better.”

The bill states that a chaplain hired by a school does not need to have a teaching certificate. It also states they must not be a registered sex offender, but does not specify those convicted of a sex crime not on the registry.

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