Despite several federal court rulings that state schools cannot hand out bibles to students, Oklahoma's Attorney General is advising them how they can get around the law.
Scott Pruitt doesn't have much national name recognition, but the Oklahoma Republican Attorney General is working hard to change that. One of his first acts after taking office in January of 2011, according to a recent New York Times investigation, was having his staff take a three-page letter "written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma's biggest oil and gas companies," then copying it "onto state government stationery with only a few word changes," and sending it to the EPA in "Washington with the attorney general's signature."
That letter "carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state."
Aside from being a shill for oil companies, and also suing the EPA, Pruitt has sued the federal government over Obamacare, criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for failing to take up his state's same-sex marriage case, claimed the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling somehow just didn't apply to Oklahoma, but supported the Supreme Court's decision favoring his friends, the owners of Hobby Lobby.
Now, Attorney General Pruitt is striking out in favor of "religious freedom," by sending a letter he also posted to his Facebook page, to school superintendents across his state, in response to this story about a local school teacher, yes, handing out bibles to students.
Despite federal court rulings that are very clear about the distribution of bibles in public schools, AG Pruitt writes that he is only too happy to work with schools to craft policies that will allow private citizens access to Oklahoma's innocent children, whom he would love to see indoctrinated into the interpreted beliefs of Christian activists.
Pruitt even issued a press release, with this stunning title: "AG Pruitt to Offer Training & Assistance to Schools to Defend Religious Freedom."
"Few things are as sacred and as fundamental to Oklahomans as the constitutional rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion," Pruitt's statement reads. "It is a challenging time in our country for those who believe in religious liberty. Our religious freedoms are under constant attack from a variety of groups who seek to undermine our constitutional rights and threaten our founding principles."
AG Pruitt seems to have forgotten to mention the freedoms of those who are non-believers, or non-Christians, or who actually believe in the separation of church and state.
The Oklahoma Attorney General also seems to be ignoring federal court rulings, and statements by several knowledgeable organizations, like these:
"Bible Distribution in Public Schools Is Illegal": Freedom From Religion Foundation
"Court Agrees Public Schools Cannot Hand Out Bibles To Students": ACLU
And this quote published by Americans United For Separation of Church And State: "As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a June 1992 opinion, 'No holding of this Court suggests that a school can persuade or compel a student to participate in a religious exercise.... The First Amendment's Religion Clauses mean that religious beliefs and religious expressions are too precious to be either proscribed or prescribed by the State.'"
Of course, given the photos AG Pruitt proudly posts to his Facebook page, like these, it wouldn't be surprising if he's looking to expand his national brand with a journey to the U.S. Supreme Court, to defend his interesting interpretation of the law.
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