Oklahoma Bill Amending the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act (SB 723)
This law was last updated on Jul 22, 2016
SB 723 would amend the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act by modifying certain definitions and authorizing certain legal actions.
The bill would amend the definition of “exercise of religion” to include the “practice” and “observance” of religion under the Constitution. It would also include “the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.”
The bill would also change the definition of “substantially burden” to mean to directly or indirectly constrain, inhibit, curtail or deny the exercise of religion by any person or compel any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion and includes, but is not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil or administrative penalties or excluding from governmental programs or access to governmental facilities.
SB 723 would allow a person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened or is likely to be substantially burdened in violation of this act to assert such violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision is a party to the proceeding.
The bill would allow private citizens to file claims against other private citizens if they believe their religious freedom has been violated. With this change, the Oklahoma RFRA would no longer track the Federal RFRA.