Oklahoma Bill Updating the Religious Freedom Act (SB 898)
This law was last updated on Sep 29, 2016
SB 898 would amend the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act to make it clear that religious businesses can discriminate, even if it means violating local nondiscrimination practices.
The bill expands the definition of “exercise of religion” to 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 defines “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.
The bill allows an individual to use the Religious Freedom Act as a claim of defense, “regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision is a party to the proceeding.”