By Dr. George E. Young, Sr.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Article 1, Section 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution states: “Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of the State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights for the exercise of civil or political rights. Polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited.”
Recently I witnessed the conversation and the vote in the House of Representatives to remove the above section from our Constitution to enable the Ten Commandments monument to be returned to the State Capitol grounds by a vote of the people on the November ballot.
Let me make this perfectly clear: I believe in the voice of the people of Oklahoma and I believe in the voice of the people of my district.
I represent individuals who are taxpaying, vibrant contributors, loving residents who are neither Jew nor Christian. So where do we draw the line of religious symbols on the Capitol grounds? Their rights are being impinged upon if we allow the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds but won’t allow their religious symbols to also be displayed on the Capitol grounds.
I have been a pastor for 30 years and possess a master’s degree in religion, a Master’s of Divinity (considered by many to be the professional degree in ministry), and a Doctorate of Ministry. Therefore, I believe I have some insight into the interpretation and application of the above-quoted section, and I contend it is not connected to the practical experience of those who serve in church and attend worship services.
Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution speaks to honoring all citizens of Oklahoma and their preference or non-preference of worship style.
If we were to live those Ten Commandants through our actions and obedience, we would abolish capital punishment, protect our senior citizens, and care for the most vulnerable members of our society – instead of having a symbol on the Capitol grounds that represents neither our daily practice nor our votes.
NOTE: A Democrat, Dr. Young represents House District 99 at the state Capitol