About a month ago, I warned about Oklahoma legislators planning to remove constitutional protections against state spending on religious institutions as such. As of today, proposals to repeal Section II-5 have passed both houses. The Tulsa World reported yesterday on how the Senate measure passed on Monday. As to the House, we have this timely insight from State Rep. Emily Virgin:
My colleagues at Americans United in OKC have posted the results of the House vote, along with some editorial commentary. There is little more that need be said, but I would like to reemphasize just a few points.
- Blowing a hole in our venerable State Bill of Rights won’t bring the Ten Commandments monument back to stay, because a federal lawsuit will inevitably be filed and the state will probably lose.
- After the monument is hauled away from the State Capitol for a second time, we will still have a gaping hole in our State Constitution where there once stood a solid wall of church/state separation, from the day of the founding until today.
- The sort of politicians who would happily entangle religion and government by providing official support to the churches (that is, the ones they personally favor) may then drive a fleet of armored cars through that hole, diverting much needed tax revenues to various faith-based causes, such as sectarian schools which eschew science education in favor of creationism.
- Atheists will inexplicably continue to pray to the dreaded and beautiful Baphomet statue to save us from the Ten Commandments, despite that legal strategy having never worked anywhere. I love a good media campaign as much as the next troll, but it won’t actually get us where we need to go unless we convince our legislators (counterfactually, as it happens) that putting the Decalogue back in place somehow triggers an automatic requirement for a limited public forum available to all comers.
Would that I had better news to share, but there is no upside to be seen here.
Have a good night!