OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. David Bullard said Oklahomans will not have to worry about their church being shut down during future state or national emergencies after the signing of Senate Bill 368 into law this week. The Durant Republican is the author of the bill that prohibits any religious institution from being declared nonessential.
“Regardless of one’s faith, churches and other religious institutions are where people turn to for solace and guidance during difficult times. For many, that was taken away last year when churches in our state and around the country were unconstitutionally forced to limit their religious services,” Bullard said. “I’m proud of the Oklahoma Legislature and Governor Stitt for upholding the U.S. Constitution and reaffirming our citizens’ freedom of religion and ensuring government doesn’t interfere with Americans’ faith.”
SB 368 prohibits any governmental entity from declaring or deeming a religious institution and any activity directly related to the institution’s discharge of its mission and purpose to be nonessential. Additionally, it prohibits the closure of such institutions for health or security purposes if those actions are greater than what is imposed on any private entity facing the same or similar health or security conditions.
Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, is the principal House author.
"Nothing is more fundamental to our rights as Americans than the ability to freely express our First Amendment rights and exercise our religion as we choose,” Hill said. “I’m grateful to have worked with Senator Bullard on this legislation to secure this freedom and to Governor Stitt in agreeing to its importance by signing it into law.”
SB 368 will go into effect July 1, 2021.
For more information, contact: Sen. Bullard: (405) 521-5586 or David.Bullard@oksenate.gov