Within 15 minutes it was done: The Oklahoma Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass three extreme bills yesterday – with no debate. The first bill would allow prayer in public schools (SB 450), the second would make the state’s law requiring parental consent for a minor to receive abortion care even more severe (SB 753) and the third would gut the state’s civil rights laws by allowing a range of individuals and businesses to discriminate as long as it’s based on a sincerely held religious belief (SB 197). It was as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Most state legislative sessions are just starting up, yet we have already seen legislators introduce 13 bills in nine states that would prohibit the “application of foreign laws” in state courts. Now, on the surface, that might not sound like a church-state issue, but that’s by design. The troubling fact is that these bills are driven by anti-Muslim animus and the spurious fear that Sharia law is infiltrating our legal system.
People went to the polls yesterday to vote on more than just who would be the next president of the United States. Voters in two states and one city voted on ballot initiatives that would have impacted religious freedom.
By Kelly Percival
Thirty-eight states protect religious liberty in their constitutions by prohibiting taxpayer money from being used to fund religion or religious institutions. These “no-aid clauses” safeguard the integrity of houses of worship by ensuring that they do not become beholden to state interests. Next week, however, Oklahoma voters will face State Question 790, a dangerous ballot measure that, if passed, would repeal Oklahoma’s no-aid-to-religion clause and erode the separation of church and state there.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin last month called on state residents to pray for the oil industry.
Fallin issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 13 “Oilfield Prayer Day.” The proclamation notes that “Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas” and “Christians acknowledge such natural resources are created by God.” It concludes by asking residents to “thank God for the blessings created by the oil and natural gas industry and to seek His wisdom and ask for protection.” The proclamation was later altered to remove specific Christian references.
In addition to voting for the next leader of our country, Oklahomans will be casting their vote on a number of state ballot measures in November. As the president of AU’s Oklahoma Chapter, I hope we vote down State Question 790.
Apparently Oklahoma’s oil industry has fallen on hard times, so Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is asking her constituents to call on divine intervention to save it.
Fallin has declared Oct. 13 “Oilfield Prayer Day.” The proclamation says that Oklahomans “acknowledge such natural resources are created by God” and asks Fallin’s constituents to “thank God for the blessings created by the oil and natural gas industry….”
Oklahoma voters will make crucial decisions about their political future this November, and only one concerns the White House. They’ll also have the opportunity to remove a clause from the state constitution that defends the separation of church and state.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives has taken a step toward removing the state constitution’s clause prohibiting aid to churches, denominations and religious schools.
In March, legislators passed a resolution to place the so-called “no-aid” clause on the ballot, giving voters an opportunity to remove it.