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New OMES Director adds “Public Praying Session” to agency meeting agenda…

He's trying really hard to impress his boss!

10:22 AM EST on December 16, 2022

As an atheist-leaning agnostic who's lived in Oklahoma my entire life, I've had to twirl my thumbs through a wide variety of public prayers over the years. 

From obligatory prayers during funerals and weddings to bowing my head before church league and/or NBA basketball games, I’m always respectful and play along, outside of occasionally looking around the room to see who else is peeking.

Although I've been a part of hundreds of public group prayer rituals over the years that pay tribute to a deity that I seriously doubt exists, I must say, I've never been forced to participate in one before a work meeting! 

That's a new one, and something state employees were treated to during a recent meeting with the state’s new C.O.O. – OMES interim director John Suter.

Stitt named him State C.O.O. and interim chief of OMES back in October. Before that, he served as C.O.O. and C.E.O of Sandridge Energy, a company that – despite his prayers and corporate leadership – couldn’t avoid bankruptcy.

We acquired a clip of the prayer via the Ogle Mole Network. You can bow your head and watch it below:

Once again, I’ve stood still during a wide variety of prayers in my life. As long as the person doesn’t use it as an excuse to convert or shame me, it doesn’t bother me all that much. 

That being said, I’ve never had to do it with someone who could fire me. If that were the case, I’d probably pray for a new job ASAP!  

“In today’s meeting, we’re going to discuss a new ad campaign for home equity loans. But before that, let’s pray.” 

Seriously, that’s just bizarre. I understand that Stitt recently claimed Oklahoma for Jesus Christ and everything, but shouldn’t we let the Son of God get settled in and everything before praying to him?

Obviously, the prayer leads to the following question – "Is a government agency director leading a prayer before a required meeting legal?"

From what I gather, it's perfectly fine for elected officials like governors, legislatures, city councils, etc, to lead prayers before public meetings, with the legal logic being those elected officials are simply citizens expressing their free speech rights. 

But the legality of a state government employee leading a prayer before a meeting with his or her subordinates is a little less clear. 

Yes, he gave the disclaimer that employees didn’t have to participate, but he also talked about how important the prayer was.

If someone got up and left the room because they didn’t want to pray to a deity they don’t worship, could that affect their employment or opportunity for advancement with OMES? Could it open up the state to employment lawsuits?

For example, should the guy who fiddled with his phone at the beginning of the prayer now have to worry about his job security because he didn't immediately worship and respect Suter's preferred diety? 

Anyway, I think I’m going to reach out to my old pals at the ACLU to see what they think about all this. If you’re a state employee and your boss is kicking off meetings with a prayer, shoot us an email. 

Amen.

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