When ‘Unconstitutional’ is Unconscionable
As many of you know, our Oklahoma Supreme Court voted in a recent decision on June 30 (and later upheld their decision in appeal) that the Ten Commandments monument was unconstitutionally displayed on the state capitol grounds. The vote was 7-2, so it was not a slam dunk. The part of the state constitution cited was Section II-5: Public money or property – Use for sectarian purposes.
“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”
Often called a Blaine amendment, because it was inserted into our constitution parallel to efforts by U.S. Representative from Maine, James Blaine in the late 1800’s. There are many ongoing debates and opinions about Congressman Blaine’s motivation over 100 years ago, but I would suggest the results are as unacceptable today as they should have been then.
This spills over into religious liberty and the free exercise thereof. In other words, this section and article in the Oklahoma Constitution is itself unconstitutional and a violation of our First Amendment as citizens of The United States. As I read this part of my own constitution, I have been in violation. This is a bad section of our constitution that must be removed. The way it reads, and if strictly enforced, means no church in Oklahoma would be able to go to a state park and have a picnic, play volleyball, sing praise songs or hymns and then let the pastor get up and speak (i.e. have an open air/brush arbor worship service).
Really? What about Rose Day? Does that come to a screeching halt now? I can go on and on. Let’s write our representatives, and call their offices. Let’s do something. This is not about a monument; it is about a movement. Then let’s go to our state parks and play volleyball, sing praise songs and do devotionals. Let’s have “Preach-Ins”! Then let’s have church and praise Jesus on the Capitol lawn and steps. I don’t need a ton of granite to know the great I Am is the Lord my God.
Yogi said it best “It ain’t over until it’s over!” Guess what? Jesus hasn’t come back yet…..It ain’t over!