Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creationism is the Official Religion of Oklahoma

Let’s not pretend that Oklahoma is actually a part of the United States. In Oklahoma, Christianity is the official religion. And not just general Christianity, but Southern Baptist Creationism. The Constitution of the United States prohibits Congress from establishing a religion. But it does not prohibit states from doing so. However, any state that does so may have to forfeit federal funds. A couple of years ago, Texas governor Rick Perry reminded America that Texas had the right to secede from the United States. Is Oklahoma ready to declare its independence from the United States? If it came to a choice between having Southern Baptist Creationism established as the official, state-supported religion of Oklahoma, and remaining a part of the United States, I would not be surprised if the Oklahoma House and Senate voted for secession.

In Oklahoma, there is a tradition of having an Oklahoma pastor open sessions of the House with an invocation. In March, 2012, pastor Bill Ledbetter of Fairview Baptist Church in Durant, Oklahoma, the city in which I work (the home of Southeastern Oklahoma State University), was supposed to give an invocation for the Oklahoma House. But he preceded it with a long sermon in which he claimed that God was passing judgment on the United States because evolution is taught in colleges and universities and because homosexuality is not forbidden by law. He told the House that God required them to pass laws that were in accordance with the Southern Baptist interpretation of the Bible. He claimed that Thomas Jefferson had intended the United States to be a Christian nation. He received applause for his speech. Here is a link to a YouTube video of his entire presentation.

You will notice that the pastor has never studied what he denounces. He claims that evolution is the belief that humans evolved from baboons, which no scientist has ever said. But, why should he bother to get it right? God has already made his brain infallible, and made him personally inerrant. This sounds like blasphemy to me, but it is blasphemy that got applause from the leaders of Oklahoma. Even back when I was a fundamentalist myself, I would have been aghast that a man could present himself as personally inerrant.

This is the same pastor who has put up church signs that declare that anyone who disagrees with him about evolution is calling God a liar. This pastor has equated himself with God. And it is not hard for me to imagine that I was the one he had in mind when he posted his anti-evolution statements on the first week of classes in Fall 2011 (see this YouTube video).

What the pastor insisted on was his Republican interpretation of the Bible. He would not permit the United States or Oklahoma to establish an economic system based upon what Jesus said about the responsibility of the rich and powerful to help the poor and weak. He would certainly reject the Old Testament practices of the Sabbath of the Fields, in which God commanded the Israelites to let their fields lie fallow every seventh year, and of Jubilee, in which all land was to revert to the original owners, and all debts forgiven, every fifty years. Biblical government would be more radically socialistic than anything that has ever been tried in the world. Of course, the pastor would not tolerate this. He does not want the Bible, but his own views, to be established as the official religion of Oklahoma.

Right after this speech, the Oklahoma House passed a bill declaring that students in Oklahoma must be required to consider alternatives to evolution and global warming in the classroom.

The legislators of Oklahoma appear ready to lead us into a Dark Age in which they suppress science and attempt to establish a religion-based government. They will fail, but may damage the Oklahoma economy in the attempt.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't that just sound OK? Maybe it's something in the water.