Politics Magazine

Oklahoma Legislators Blunder Into A Religious Controversy

Posted on the 12 January 2014 by Jobsanger
Oklahoma Legislators Blunder Into A Religious Controversy  Recently, the Oklahoma legislators accepted a gift and approved placing it on the grounds of the state capitol. It was a monument depicting the 10 Commandments (see picture at left). The smug legislators thought they had put one over on the non-christians living in the state. They had not only put the state government in the position of favoring one religion over all others, but probably reassured their own re-election in a state full of fundamentalist christians.
But they overlooked (or knowingly ignored) one small thing -- the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and forbids government establishment of religion. That has always been understood, even by the United States Supreme Court, to mean no government entity in the United States (local, state, or federal) can do anything that would favor one religion over any other religion (or favor religion in general over non-religion).
Oklahoma Legislators Blunder Into A Religious ControversyAnd thanks to that amendment, those Oklahoma legislators      have gotten themselves into a real mess. That mess was created because, while those legislators may not understand the Constitution, other people do. And some of those other people believe in a different religion.
Believers at the Satanic Temple have decided that since Oklahoma now allows religious monuments on government property, they want a monument of their own placed there. And this is not just an idle threat. They have already received enough in donations (about $20,000) to build that monument (pictured at left). They correctly reason that since one religion can have a monument on capitol grounds, then other religions may also have one there.
And the satanists aren't the only ones expressing a desire to put a religious monument on capitol grounds. A hindu group wants to put a statue of their "monkey god" on government property, and pastafarians say they want a likeness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to be displayed there. Undoubtably, other religious (and probably even atheist) groups will follow suit.
These legislators will try to fight the placement of these other monuments, but the issue is pretty clear cut -- they will lose. Then they'll have to make a decision -- either allow the other monuments, or remove the 10 Commandments monument (and go back to having no religious monuments at all on capitol grounds).
I expect they will choose the latter. There is no way they want to be known as the ones that allowed a satanic monument on government property, thus angering all those fundamentalist voters they were trying to please. By removing the christian monument, they can claim they were the victims of "godless liberals" -- and fundamentalists love to claim they are victims. That way they can still be heroic to the fundamentalist voters, as they glory in their victimhood.

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