Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AU Oklahoma letter to House of Reps.

Oklahoma ChapterAmericans United
for Separation of Church and State

P.O. Box 892747, Oklahoma City, OK 73189, 405-632-0037

“Separation…Over Two Hundred Years of Success

February 13, 2009

An open letter to thirty-six members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is deeply concerned about the actions of twenty members of the Oklahoma House of Representative.
Their vote to not include the comments and prayer of the Rev. Scott Jones, a local gay minister, in the House Journal shows preferential treatment among religious traditions and is shocking.
We are also disappointed in the action of sixteen legislators who left the chamber prior to the vote.

The “no” votes and exiting of the chamber are clear examples of House members treating an Oklahoma clergyman differently from other clergy who have opened the chamber with a religious ceremony.

It is unacceptable for legislators to demonstrate official favoritism among religions based on their personal religious biases in the public chamber of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
This legislative behavior of a minority of House members brings embarrassment to Oklahoma. This was an official political action based upon individual religious viewpoints.

The Chapter cannot ignore this direct slight of a fellow Oklahoma citizen.

As advocates of church-state separation, we believe it would be best for the Oklahoma legislature to forgo opening prayers entirely.

But if the practice is to be continued, the invocations must be nonsectarian and there must be no discrimination against those offering the prayers.

We wish to commend those sixty-four House members who voted to include the prayer and comments of Rev. Jones in the House Journal. Your legislative courage and civic conscience is to be applauded.

On behalf of the Oklahoma AU Chapter Board,

Mike Fuller
Chapter President

Americans United for Separation of Church and State518 C Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 202-466-3234