From the Pastors for Oklahoma Kids Declaration (2017):

We recognize that education improvement and reform are necessary in Oklahoma in order to properly fund and resource our teachers, schools, and students. We reject the false notion that schools are “failing” or not caring for our students. We urge a halt to the demonization of public schools and anti-public school rhetoric.

We affirm the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote any sectarian faith.

We recognize vouchers, ESAs, and privatization as an attempt to convert the free public education of the many into a marketplace of financial gain for the few. The proliferation of school choice programs is an attempt to redistribute public education resources from the most underfunded districts into the hands of private education profiteers. We call for an end to this profiteering of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children.


Denominational Statements on School Vouchers


National Council of Churches

“We repeat our conviction that parents have the right to select home schooling or private or parochial schools for their children. But with that personal right comes the public obligation to support public schools for all children.”


“We do affirm our conviction that, as a general rule, public funds should be used for public purposes. We also caution that government aid to primary and secondary religious schools raises constitutional problems, and could undermine the schools’ independence and/or compromise their religious message.”

-The Churches and the Public Schools at the Close of the Twentieth Century, A Policy Statement of the National Council of the Churches of Christ, Adopted November 11, 1999


The United Methodist Church

“…We specifically oppose tuition tax credits, school vouchers, or any other mechanism that directly or indirectly allows government funds to support religious schools at the primary and secondary level.”

-Book of Resolutions, 5012


The Southern Baptist Convention

Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.

-Baptist Faith & Message, 2000



American Baptists

“We declare our explicit opposition to: Any benefits such as tuition tax credits or vouchers, which use public funds for the support of religion sponsored activities and institutions;”

We object strenuously, therefore, to any proposal that authorizes taxes or borrowing power be used to make grants or loans to sectarian or church related schools. We emphasize that the use of government finances in support of any
sectarian purpose is a violation of basic religious liberties for it coerces citizens to support religious objectives which many of them cannot conscientiously approve.”

-American Baptist Resolution on Separation of Church and State, #8117:9/83


Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

Private choices do not, however, absolve anyone in the church from responsibility to support and protect the right of all
children to education, and for most, that will mean public education. Our call is to love our neighbor as ourselves—to act in such a way that all our neighbors’ children have the same access to a quality education as that we desire for our own.”

-Loving Our Neighbors, Equity and Quality in Public Education, Approved by the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“In light of the essential role of public education in serving the common good of the society and in the face of continuing
concern for the effectiveness of some public schools, the lack of equitable access for many students to high-quality schools, and the often inadequate provision of financial resources, the ELCA affirms and advocates for the equitable, sufficient, and effective funding of public schools.

“To what degree does the [school voucher] ensure just, equitable, and long-term viable sources of funding?”

-Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, SCHOOL VOUCHER PROPOSALS, Social Policy Resolution CA01.06.26 (2001)


Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

“The BJC continues to defend the religious schools’ freedom to carry out their dual mission. Opposition to vouchers is a necessary part of this effort. All of us deserve the right to choose religious schools for our children, but we don’t have the right to insist that others pay for it through taxpayer-funded vouchers.”

-“School vouchers threaten religious autonomy”, 2015




Words of Founders, Baptists and Others about Church and State

  • Early Baptists
    “An enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”
    –Roger Williams (founder of First Baptist Church in America), The Bloody Tenet of Persecution (1640).

    “When they [the Church] have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World.”
    –Roger Williams, “Mr. Cotton’s Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered,” The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, Vol. 1, 108 (1644).

    “Religious matters are to be separated from the jurisdiction of the state, not because they are beneath the interests of the state but, quite to the contrary, because they are too high and holy and thus are beyond the competence of the state.”
    –Isaac Backus, colonial Baptist from New England, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty (1773).

    “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever. … Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”
    –John Leland, “A Chronicle of His Time in Virginia,” as cited in Forrest Church, The Separation of Church and State, 92 (2004).

    The Church ought to be regarded as “a complete republic of itself, not to be controlled by civil government…”
    –John Leland, colonial Baptist from Virginia, “Christocracy,” The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, 278 (cited in Rogers, Traditions of Church-State Separation:…, The Journal of Law & Politics, Vol. XVIII, no. 1, 277-321).

    “Experience…has informed us that the fondness of magistrates to foster Christianity has done it more harm than all the persecutions ever did.”
    –John Leland, quoted in Gaustad, A Disestablished Society: Origins of the First Amendment, vol. 11, A Journal of Church and State (1969), 414.

    “These establishments metamorphose the church into a creature, and religion into a principle of state, which has a natural tendency to make men conclude that Bible religion is nothing but a trick of state.”
    — John Leland, Right of Conscience Inalienable, and Therefore, Religious Opinions Not Cognizable By The Law.

    “Truth disdains the aid of law for its defense–it will stand upon its own merits.”
    –John Leland, Right of Conscience Inalienable, and Therefore, Religious Opinions Not Cognizable By The Law.

    The Framers
    “I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other.”
    –John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689.

    “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but is always the strongly marked feature of all…religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
    –Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791.

    The constitutional provision to ban a religious test for public office is “a provision the world would expect from you in the establishment of a System founded on Republican principles in an age so liberal and enlightened as the present.”
    –Charles Pinckney, delegate to the Constitutional Convention from South Carolina, quoted in Stokes and Pfeffer, Church and State in the United States, 485.

    “The rights of conscience are a peculiar delicacy and will little bear the gentlest touch of government’s hand.”
    –Daniel Carroll, delegate from Maryland to the First Congress, 1 ANNALS OF CONG. 757-58 J. Gales ed., 1834 (August 15, 1789).

    “[I]f I could now conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution. …[E]very man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.”
    –George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Church’s General Committee, May, 1789, cited in Forest Church, ed., The Separation of Church and State, 106.

    “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions…shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power…we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
    –John Adams, Letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785.

    “…the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” —Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, ratified and signed by John Adams, cited in The Works of John Adams (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1856), volume IX, 636.

    “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
    –President Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799.

    “I contemplate with sovereign reverence the act of the Whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
    –Thomas Jefferson, 1802 letter to Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association.

    [T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
    –Thomas Jefferson, A bill for the Establishing of Religious Freedom.

    “Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government.”
    –President Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Rev. Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808.

    “The Religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate…It is the duty of everyman to render to the Creator such homage…as he believes to be acceptable to him. The duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society…We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no Man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.”
    –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, (1785).

    “While we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.”
    –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, (1785).

    “Because the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world…”
    –James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, (1785).

    “Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church and the State.”
    –James Madison, letter to Robert Walsh, 1819 in Gaillard Hunt, ed. The Writings of James Madison, v. VIII, 431-432.

    “Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government.”
    –President James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

    “The amendment was discussed, and rejected, the opponents of the amendment having turned the feeling as well as judgment of the House [against] it by successfully contending that the better proof of reverence for that holy name [would] be not to profane it by making it a topic of legal discussion.”
    –James Madison, on a provision to introduce Jesus Christ into a bill, undated memorandum, cited in Forrest Church, ed., The Separation of Church and State, 136.

    “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
    –President James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

    “When religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
    –Benjamin Franklin, cited in Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper, 1950), vol. I, 298.

    “Civil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right to religious freedom.”
    –President John Quincy Adams, Letter to Richard Anderson, May 27, 1823.

    Various Presidential Affirmations of Religious Liberty
    “It is my firm belief that there should be separation of church and state as we understand it in the United States—that is, that both church and state should be free to operate, without interference from each other in their respective areas of jurisdiction. We live in a liberal, democratic society which embraces wide varieties of belief and disbelief. There is no doubt in my mind that the pluralism which has developed under our Constitution, providing as it does a framework within which diverse opinions can exist side by side and by their interaction enrich the whole, is the most ideal system yet devised by man. I cannot conceive of a set of circumstances which would lead me to a different conclusion.”
    –John F. Kennedy, in a letter to Glenn L. Archer, February 23, 1959.

    “I believe in the American tradition of separation of church and state which is expressed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. By my office—and by personal conviction—I am sworn to uphold that tradition.”
    –President Lyndon B. Johnson, interview, Baptist Standard, October 1964.

    “The divorce between church and state should be absolute.”
    –President James Garfield, quoted in Paul Blanshard, God and Man in Washington (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960), 226.

    “I have a deep belief that the First Amendment separation between church and state is what guarantees the religious freedom of all people.”
    –President Bill Clinton, campaign address, South Bend, Ind., September 1992.

    “I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way.”
    –President Jimmy Carter, Letter to Jack V. Harwell, August 11, 1977, Box RM1, White House Central Files, Jimmy Carter Library.

    “The government ought to stay out of the prayer business.”
    –President Jimmy Carter, press conference, Washington, D.C., 1979.

    “Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between Church and State.”
    –President James Knox Polk, in George Seldes, The Great Quotations, (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1960), 169.

    (On the interference of government with religion and vice versa) “We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference.”
    –Rutherford B. Hayes, statement as governor of Ohio, 1875.

    “I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled.”
    –President Millard Fillmore, Address during 1856 presidential election in Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore (Buffalo, N.Y.: Henry Stewart, Inc., 1959), 407.

    “Religion is a difficult matter to handle politically.”
    –President Herbert Hoover, quoted in Carl Sferazza Anthony, America’s First Families (New York: Touchstone Books, 2000), 217.

    Other Public Figures
    “All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with liberty.”
    –Henry Clay, address, U.S. House of Representatives, March 24, 1818.

    “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.”
    –Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (Harper & Row, 1963).

    “It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”
    –Billy Graham, Parade (February 1, 1981).

    “We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of the country.”
    –Margaret Mead, anthropologist, Redbook magazine (February 1985).

    “I’m so troubled, always, when I see people who are sure that they know exactly what God’s plan for the world is, what political party God belongs to, what God’s ideology is, and what God’s position on particular cases and controversies might be.”
    –Al Gore, VP, statement to civil liberties and religious leaders July 14, 1994.

    Judicial Interpretation of First Amendment
    “Jefferson’s use of the term “wall of separation between church and state” may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.”
    –Reynolds v. United States (1878), 98 U.S. 145 at 164.

    “The very purpose of the Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”
    West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943).

    Denominational Acceptance
    “Church and state should be separate. The states owe to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends…The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal.”
    –1963 Southern Baptist Convention Annual 269-281, Article XVII “Religious Liberty.”