Oklahomans should vote yes on SQ 790

Oct 24, 2016

By The Oklahoman Editorial Board

AMONG the proposals Oklahomans will consider in November is State Question 790, which would repeal Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. That provision declares, “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 benefit of “any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

Opponents of SQ 790 contend that Article II, Section 5 simply requires church-state separation. Not true.

In reality, Article II, Section 5 is an embarrassing relic of 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry. It fuels abusive lawsuits targeting programs that are perfectly legal under the U.S. Constitution. It has been employed to drive people of faith from the public sphere simply because they are people of faith.

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17 comments on “Oklahomans should vote yes on SQ 790

  • The section talks about public funding of religious activities, not the participation of religious folk in politics. The argument in the piece makes no sense to me.

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  • Geoff 21 #3
    Oct 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    It fuels abusive lawsuits targeting programs that are perfectly legal under the U.S. Constitution.

    I think this is an example of theist wish-thinking “interpretation” of the constitution! – of the “It can’t mean restricting public spending on MY wonderful religion”, type!

    (There are references to the stone with the ten commandments on public property)

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  • Americans United for the separation of Church and State website : Oct 25, 2016 includes this comment.

    Some supporters of SQ 790 say it will allow the state to return a Ten
    Commandments monument to the state capitol. They are upset that the
    Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the monument violated Article 2
    Section 5 and want to eliminate that obstacle. I would argue that
    putting the Ten Commandments up at the state remains a bad idea – the
    state shouldn’t endorse a religious creed. Nonetheless, removing the
    no-aid clause from their state constitution won’t solve the problem.
    Any attempt to return the Ten Commandments monument to the state
    capitol would be immediately challenged in federal court and would
    still likely be found to violate the U.S. Constitution. And
    Oklahomans, of course, will have to once again foot that bill.

    I would like to know what the hell put this plug for theocracy is doing on this site!!

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  • nemo #5
    Oct 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    I would like to know what the hell put this plug for theocracy is doing on this site!!

    Articles are put on RDFS for critical analysis and comment.

    As a site promoting reason, there are plenty of comments which point out and illustrate the irrationality of theocratic thinking.

    Posting an article or quotation, does not imply endorsement!

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  • It may be that I have overreacted here. Thinking further the problem
    seems to be not the article itself, but the inaptness of the heading.

    “Oklahomans should vote yes on SQ 790” is clearly not a message RDFRS
    should be sending. On the other hand with a heading such as “Oklahoma may
    vote to change constitution, reinstate Ten Commandments monument” the
    item would be very appropriate.

    So why is that the heading is as it is? My initial reaction to it was
    to take it to be a hack of the site by nefarious religionists, which
    I think is a quite logical reaction which any viewer of the site might
    have. I still think it possibly is a hack.

    I shall contact the moderators and ask them to investigate this, and
    perhaps amend the heading. Even if it is not a hack, it is still making
    RDFRS look silly.

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  • Nemo, the headlines of every article on this site are the original ones taken from the original articles – we have no legal rights to republish articles under a different name. Published articles belong to the author/publisher, and only they have the right to make alterations to them. The foundation (not the moderators, as it happens, but that’s irrelevant here) posts articles for discussion only: a whole range of articles, some of which it may agree with, some of which it doesn’t. The object of the exercise is rational discussion of the ideas expressed in them, not just the sharing of articles reflecting the foundation’s views.

    If you disagree with the linked article, please feel free to express your views about that here. That is one of the main purposes of the website. But the name of the article has been retained entirely in keeping with foundation policy and copyright law, and there’s no point railing against that as it’s not going to change!

    The mods

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  • O.K. let us consider the matter closed.

    I am quite aware of copyright law was not suggesting any infringement of it. I was making the assumption
    that the heading provided was separate from the article and was there to indicate the relevance of the
    article to the RDFRS site, and was not an element of the article.

    Clearly I was wrong. I apologize.

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  • 12
    Cairsley says:

    To Bonnie2 #7

    EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) is described in Wikipedia as a global Catholic television network, and this is relevant information to bear in mind in determining the merits of the miniseries it has produced on the Inquisition. I would agree that in some cases the ecclesiastic courts can be shown to be more lenient and humane than the secular courts in mediaeval and early modern times, when justice was a much more brutal affair than in our own time (at least in Western society), but against such low standards it is very easy to make the Church’s courts seem quite virtuous and reasonable, even enlightened. And we should not forget that judicial standards were so low then, in large part because the Church had been very successful in previous centuries in suppressing the dynamic scholarship and free enquiry that had flourished in antiquity, and also in making itself useful to the aristocratic rulers of Europe by buttressing their authority with divine sanction. Moreover, how would it ever be in any way commendable to burn even one person at the stake for disagreeing with a doctrine that referred to nothing in verifiable reality? Yet many, many more than one were burnt alive at the stake for just such a non-crime. So, yes, one may well be able to point out certain “black legends” — an apparently inevitable, albeit unworthy, part of the task of combating ideological enemies, no matter what one’s own ideology may be — in the output of the Catholic Church’s enemies, but that does not remove the mountain of evidence of the Church’s oppression of dissidents and its inhumanity in dealing with them. Unless the miniseries on the Inquisition places the so-called black legends in the accurate historical context of the Catholic hierarchy’s constant intolerance of dissidence, it can only be regarded as pro-Catholic propaganda.

    Mazzeo continued, . . . “the clerics of the Inquisition were forbidden to engage in torture or even to pronounce the death penalty!”

    This is, strictly speaking, true, yet it does not exculpate the many clerics over the centuries, who saw to it that an untold number of people were tortured and executed — always in a manner of extreme cruelty — for heresy. Those clerics did not engage in torture or even pronounce the death penalty; all they had to do was find the defendant guilty of heresy and hand him or her over to the secular court. As part of their lay Christian ministrations, the secular court’s assistants and officials sought to save the heretic from eternal perdition by encouraging him or her by means of torture to recant his or her heresy. If this was to no avail, the God-fearing Christians of the secular court took the step of condemning the defendant to death by some appropriately purificatory method, thereby protecting the community of the faithful from heretical infection and commending the defendant to God’s judgement and, perhaps some at least hoped, God’s mercy. All of which can only fill a modern person with horror, that so many people suffered such cruelties merely for doing something as natural as thinking for oneself, instead of surrendering one’s mind to fanciful superstitions, which were upheld by all those university-trained clerics who sat in judgement on those accused of heresy. These learned clerics might have been commendably reasonable with regard to accusations of witchcraft, yet they were not at all so reasonable with regard to clear departures from theological orthodoxy.

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  • Can I just borrow bonnie’s link to recommend the recent movie, The Witch.

    This is a wonderful chilling account of how a terrifyingly marginal existence defended against by religion rather than reason manufactures entirely destructive forces.

    I’m afraid I am not a fan of the horror genre (sorry Clive) except where it reveals truths about our psyche, from whence all horrors come, from Repulsion to the Babadook.

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  • Cairsley #12
    Oct 29, 2016 at 3:13 am

    So, yes, one may well be able to point out certain “black legends”

    As with “Saint Mother Teresa”, the Catholic Church is well known for white-washing “Black Legends”!

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  • 16
    Cairsley says:

    Alan4discussion #15

    I can manage to say “Mother Teresa” (probably just out of habit), but putting ‘Saint’ in front of it is one step too far for me. What a Pandora’s jar that case is!

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