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Senator Lankford Announces Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Dr. Everett Piper as State of the Union Guest

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today announced that Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Dr. Everett Piper will be his guest for the State of the Union address, which will take place next Tuesday, January 12. Dr. Piper is the fifth president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, a private faith-based institution that was established in 1909.

“It is my honor to have Dr. Everett Piper as my guest for this upcoming State of the Union address,” said Lankford. “Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a leader in the national struggle to protect the constitutional right of religious liberty in the United States. Their stand for freedom before the Supreme Court will bring clarity to our personal liberties and the battle between religious freedom and religious suppression. Instead of allowing diversity of thought and practice, the Obama administration demands conformity to their religious worldview. I applaud Dr. Piper’s stand for religious freedom, and I remain hopeful that the Courts will rule in favor of religious diversity and practice. Freedom of religious practice is an essential right for every citizen. Americans have the right to choose no faith at all, or to practice a faith and live their faith free of government suppression.”

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is one of four Oklahoma universities involved in a group of seven Supreme Court cases that will determine whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) provides broad protection for the exercise of religion. The other three Oklahoma universities include Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University. In this case, the Court will determine if Obamacare’s employer mandate for non-profit entities like universities and charities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception is constitutional. Last year, the Supreme Court held that this mandate violated RFRA as applied to a religious for-profit corporation. These new cases argue that the false accommodation crafted by the Obama administration still forces them to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs. Oral arguments are expected to begin in late March.

Senator Lankford is a strong advocate of religious freedom, and has long been an opponent of Obamacare and its burdensome mandates. In August of last year, Lankford introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, a bill that would ensure that organizations, private businesses, institutions of higher education, health care providers, and insurance companies are not forced to sponsor insurance coverage that violates their religious or moral beliefs.

Lankford also serves as the co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which works to protect the fundamental human right of religious freedom and guards the right of individuals to pray and practice their faith freely.