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Oklahoma voters retain state Blaine amendment

November 10, 2016

By a 57%-43% margin, Oklahoma voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have overturned a “Blaine amendment” that is part of the state’s 1907 constitution.

Section II-5 of the constitution states, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

The section thus “prohibits state money from going to religious organizations, even when those organizations have standard state contracts, do not use the funds for proselytization, and, most importantly, serve everyone who comes through their doors,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who called for its removal. “It is a ‘Blaine Amendment,’ one of a series of state constitutional provisions that were designed to exclude Catholics from providing religious education and from public life more generally.”

 
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