The only way for this country to have true freedom of religion, as outlined in the Constitution, is to have a completely secular government from federal to city or county. At least it should be that way.
But now actions by the Oklahoma legislature have created a situation that has everyone in a tizzy. Last year (2012) after planning and private funding, they planted a monument of the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma Legislature government property.
Of course, according to separation of church and state concepts, they can’t do that. We have freedom of religion – not the Christian choice to push their religion through government property and down the throats of the rest of us.
Everyone has a right to believe how they wish, which is the subject of the First Amendment to the Constitution. But this Ten Commandments government monument raised the ire of the Satanist Temple in New York, which has now petitioned the Oklahoma Legislature for building a privately funded Satanist monument on state legislature property.
According to reports, Rep. Mike Ritze pushed the Ten Commandments bill through the Republican controlled legislature and also privately helped to fund the $10,000 cost of the Christian monument.
Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves noted that this only helped with publicity for the Satanists. “He’s helping a satanic agenda more than any of us possibly could. You don’t walk around and see too many Satanic Temples, but when you open the door to public spaces for us, that’s when you are going to see us.”
Naturally the ACLU got into the argument, with Brady Henderson of the Oklahoma ACLU stating: “We would prefer to see Oklahoma government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and to improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are”.
How this will all end up is anyone’s guess. Currently we have some Christians thinking that they are being attacked by those wanting to take religious symbols off of state property, to take prayer out of school, and destroy religion.
That’s just patently not true. However, religious symbols belong on religious property, owned by a church, synagogue, cathedral, mosque or other religious organization. On state property, they are an obvious attempt to proselytize individual religious views and to give state sanction to a particular viewpoint. That is contrary to the Constitution, which is designed to protect us all.
Within zoning laws (also designed to protect us all) you can also have monuments, signs, and religious symbols on your own property. Prayer was never removed from school – only the proselytizing a particular religious viewpoint said aloud to all was eliminated in a Supreme Court 8 to 1 decision.
Children can still pray silently just before an algebra test or final exam and teachers can still silently pray before walking into school each morning to face a horde of youngsters who are often resistant to learning.
The fact remains that if in Oklahoma or any state or on federal property you allow the erection of a monument pushing Christianity, then in the spirit of fairness you have to allow similar tasteful, privately funded monuments that promote Satanism, Islam, Scientology, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Wiccan, or any type of current Paganism.
It’s better to follow the words of Oklahoma ACLU Brady Henderson, “. . . if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint”.
Let’s leave the religious to the various religious shamans and keep the government secular and working for the betterment of all of us.