Friday, May 16, 2003

Religious Debate on Senate Floor

This week there was an interesting exchange on the floor of the Oklahoma Senate between Democratic Senator Bernest Cain of Oklahoma City and Senator Scott Pruitt, Republican of Broken Arrow. The debate was over some language Senator Pruitt wanted placed in science textbooks used in Oklahoma - a sort of disclaimer regarding the theory of evolution. Senator Pruitt, a very conservative and religious person, has been trying to insert a conservative religious agenda into the political debate - centered around efforts to get creationism into the public schools. This week Senator Cain, a liberal Senator who apparently believes in the separation of church and state, took the effort to put creationism into the schools head on. As The Tulsan points out, you can read the exchange, at least the part KFAQ radio wants you to read, at their website. Republican Senators Fine, (shouldn't be casting stones) Ford, and Wilcoxson jumped to Pruitt's defense and conservative talkshows in Oklahoma have pilloried Senator Cain's remarks in favor of religious diversity.

I cannot fault Senator Cain as I agree with his call for the defense of separation of church and state and his desire for the Christian right to stop trying to force their beliefs and codes on others. They will deny that they are wanting to do this but a read of the Republican Senators statements (if you can understand Ford's rambling) will reveal their intent. They may say they just want equal treatment for creationism and science but they never speak in terms of Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu theories of creation. Until they do, I cannot believe them. Their disingenuous attempts to lie about the ultimate agenda - the recognition of Christian values and beliefs as the tacitly approved religion - tells us we cannot trust them to be openly honest. The radio talk show hosts like Michael DelGiorno on KFAQ carry the water for the Christian right and they come closest to spilling the beans on what the objectives are. DelGiorno is honest, but scary. But thank (insert your deity or lack thereof here) he and his colleagues are out there revealing the true agenda of the Christian right.

The thinking around the Capitol is that the Republicans are pushing issues such as prayer in school and creationism to force Democrats to vote in ways that can be used against them in upcoming elections. Unfortunately, in Oklahoma it certainly never hurts to say your opponent is against teaching creationism in school or in favor of child abuse. Of course, using religion for crass political maneuvering would be frowned on by most faiths and holy men I am acquainted with. WWJD?

Senator Pruitt believes he is doing good. He's about as good a person as you'll find at the Legislature, but he's wrong on pushing his religious beliefs into schools and government. I'm with Senator Cain on this one. He's a good man too.

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