Tulsa World: Oklahoma Edges Out Texas in Protecting Religious Liberty


Editor’s Note: The following op-ed was published in the Tulsa World on October 1, 2022, and is authored by Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for First Liberty Institute and adjunct law professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

A new ranking of religious liberty across the country finds Oklahoma in the top third of all states, placing 16th in the nation. Significantly, Oklahoma is several steps ahead of our outspoken neighbor to the south, Texas, which comes in 25th. Both states have significant room for improvement if our actual legal protections for religious liberty are going to catch up with our vocal support of it.

There are two main safeguards in which Oklahoma does more to protect religious liberty than Texas — opportunities for absentee voting and health care exemptions.

Texas is one of only 10 states that does not allow for absentee voting due to religious holidays or other religious reasons. Oklahoma, however, not only offers protections in the area of voting, but it uses the most flexible approach, which is to allow citizens to vote absentee without being asked to provide a reason for why they cannot vote in person.

In the area of health care exemptions, neither Oklahoma nor Texas is excelling. While both states protect the right of an individual practitioner or a private hospital to refuse to perform an abortion, Oklahoma goes one step further and protects the refuser from civil liability.

However, these protections only account for two (Texas) and three (Oklahoma) out of the possible 20 safeguards in the area of health care exemptions that the project tracks, meaning there is a lot of room for improvement in this area for both states.

Read the entire article in the Tulsa World here.