Oklahoma House Chaplain program conveniently excludes non-Christians
4:25 PM EST on February 26, 2018
Over the weekend, while I was conducting my bi-weekly hate read of The Oklahoman's editorial page, I stumbled across a piece that criticized the OK House Chaplain program at the Oklahoma Capitol. It's the program that allows legislators to nominate a faith leader to be the House’s Chaplain of the Week or Chaplain of the Day, and get in front of lawmakers and give Baptist sermons like this:
In case you haven't heard, the program has come under fire in the past few weeks after State Rep Chuck Strohm – the guy in charge of the program – asked legislators to only nominate a faith leader from “the representative’s own place of worship." Considering it's a unwritten rule that all Oklahoma lawmakers be, or at least pretend to be, Christians, this would exclude all other religious groups from participating in the program.
Anyway, The Oklahoman, which has been enabling and pandering to Christian religious zealots for over a century, thinks that is wrong.
WE'D like to say it's surprising that the Oklahoma House of Representatives would apparently try to keep non-Christians from leading legislators in prayer, but, sadly, the Republican-led body has shown its intolerant side more than once through the years.
After all, the House is home to a member who has made a career out of railing against Muslims. Rep. John Bennett of Sallisaw has called Islam “a cancer” and an enemy of the American way of life. Last year he conducted an interim study on “radical Islam, Shariah Law, the Muslim Brotherhood and the radicalization process.”
The Oklahoma House once had a member who, during debate on a bill, said customers of his business “may try to Jew me down on the price. That's fine.” When informed moments later that he had used the derisive term, he said, “Did I? All right. I apologize to the Jews. They're good small businessmen as well.”
Fun fact – Did you know that we're the ones who broke the "Jew me down" story, and that it never would have became an news story if we didn't bring attention to it? I guess that means we're now indirectly helping with Oklahoman editorials. Expect the paper to issue a full retraction tomorrow.
Then there was former Rep. Sally Kern, a staunch Christian who several years ago said the “homosexual agenda” was a greater threat to the United States than terrorism.
Thus, it's not a stretch to think the representative who oversees the House Chaplain of the Day/Chaplain of the Week Program might encourage his colleagues not to invite non-Christians.
Wow. What is happening here? Is this part of some branded-content feature sponsored by "Common Sense" and "Equality." The Oklahoman really just called out religious zealots for doing typical Oklahoma religious zealot things? The Ghost of E.K. Gaylord will not be happy with that one.
At an interfaith prayer service Friday at the Capitol, Imad Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, noted that new guidelines issued recently by Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks, require that clergy in the program “be from the representative's own place of worship." Oklahoma's House members are overwhelmingly Christian.
Enchassi said he applied for the program in January 2017 after Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, nominated him, but that his application was denied later in the session with no reason given. Enchassi said he was stung by the rejection, understandably so, because “This is my state. This is my city. This is the place where I choose to raise my children.”
The Oklahoman's Carla Hinton reported that in a letter to House colleagues in January, Strohm said the chaplain program “is not a platform for personal agendas, but an opportunity to ask for God's wisdom and to speak blessing and hope over those who are often overwhelmed by the many voices that are converging upon them.” Fair enough, but certainly leaders of faiths other than Christianity can do that.
Yes, leaders of other faiths can do exactly that. In fact, maybe it's time for the Christians to take a break from the chaplain program and give other religions a chance to do their thing. It couldn't hurt. Just look at the deviance, pedophiles and general dysfunction flowing out of the Oklahoma house – whatever the Christian chaplains are doing is obviously not working.
Anyway, you can read the rest of the editorial here. I'd check it out. In what is probably another Oklahoman first, they end the piece with a quote from a Jewish man.