Ryan Walters Speaks On Constitution And Religion In D.C.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters challenges the Supreme Court's interpretation of separation of church and state.

Monday, September 18th 2023, 6:18 pm

By: News 9


Oklahoma's State Superintendent Ryan Walters traveled to Washington D.C. last week to speak at the "Pray, Vote, Stand" Summit. According to the group's website, "Pray, Vote, Stand" is "a national gathering of spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives." 

That summit is where Walters made this claim: “The Supreme Court has been wrong. There is no separation of church and state in the constitution or declaration of independence, it doesn't exist,” said Walters. 

Technically, according to News 9’s legal analyst Irven Box, Walters is correct. Box explained to News 9 what is spelled out in the constitution - and where the idea of separation of church and state came from.

“He's right in this respect - is there something in the constitution that says church and state separated? There is not,” said Box.

“The First Amendment starts off and it says, 'Congress should make no laws respecting the establishment of religion,'” said Box.

That is called the “establishment clause” which states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

“People throughout centuries have used that term to think there's separation between the government and the state, there's really not,” said Box.

Box says the founding fathers never had the idea of total separation between church and state.

“The only thing the founders wanted to make sure was that we couldn't have a state-sponsored religion, in other words, like the Church of England,” said Box.

Box says the crossover of religion and government is a gray area.

"There's really not a wall between church and state. It's a picket fence, and that means there's other areas that you can get in and allow some religion to be involved in government,” said Box.

This means, Walters' idea of a 60-second prayer being mandated, having the Bible in schools, or the public religious charter school, could become a reality if they make it through the courts. 

“That's something that's going to be challenged. That's something that's going to be challenged by parents,” said Box.

Walters said he’s not backing down, also touting Oklahoma as the first state to create a religious public charter school.

“We will bring God back to schools and prayer back in schools in Oklahoma, and fight back against that radical myth,” said Walters.

Walters was not available for an interview Monday, as he’s traveling back to D.C. to testify before the U.S. House tomorrow on Chinese influence in schools.

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