Loopy Laws Looming Large (SB 175)
Every year, I make a point of combing through Oklahoma’s steaming fresh pile of proposed legislation to try to find anything that will give churches and people of faith some legally cognizable advantage over the rest of us, or promote their dogma into law. Usually, it’s a handful of bills trying to water down public education, a few bills promoting public piety, a smattering of anti-choice attempts to wrest the means of reproduction away from women and into the hands of the State, and a couple dozen routine tax exemptions.
This year, however, Senator AJ Griffin managed to surprise me by coming up with something completely different:
An Act relating to rape; amending 21 O.S. 2011,
Section 1111, which relates to the definition of
rape; modifying definition; and providing an
Oh good lord, here we go. Here is the relevant amendatory language to the existing statute:
9. Where the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and
is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a participant in a
youth program or services at a church or place of worship and
engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18)
years of age or older and is an employee or volunteer employee of
the same church or ministry.
Hopefully I’m reading this one wrong, because it looks to be saying that two 19-year-olds would both be guilty of raping each other if (1) they volunteer as youth ministry interns at a church, (2) participate in youth services, and (3) engage in certain consensual sex acts prior to getting getting married.
Now, I know that many churches around here are staunchly against are premarital sex, but it’s unclear why they should get to modify the criminal code so as to commandeer the force of the state to help them enforce their retrograde sexual mores. If I clearly recall growing up in an Oklahoma youth group, some of the kids did experiment with each other, some of the time. Not me, of course, because The Lord blessed me with oversized pangs of guilty conscience, but some of those other kids, God help ‘em.
Maybe I’ve missed the main thrust of this bill, but it seems to me that it’s basically an attempt to get the State more directly involved in the Church, as a sort of real-world supplement to the deterrent effect of knowing that Jesus is watching teenagers fumbling towards ecstasy in the back of the church van. Seems to me that supernatural supervision should be quite enough. Churches have already rewritten much of the tax code to ensure special treatment, they can damn well leave the criminal statutes alone.