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January 15, 2014

House of Burgess: Shut the door, keep out the Devil

Satanists ask Oklahoma for equal rights.

If you’ve read more than a few of my columns, you should already know by now one of my favorite subjects is the initial passage of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

As I covered in my April 17, 2013 column, “Believe; It may be law soon,” North Carolina Republican lawmakers fruitlessly attempted to institute a state religion. And as I previously reported in both the summer (June 19, 2013) and winter (Dec. 18, 2013) editions of my “War on Christmas” columns, legislators in Texas — and possibly Louisiana and Oklahoma soon — have effectively implemented so-called “Merry Christmas” laws.

I am a staunch defender and complete literalist when it comes to the Establishment Clause’s 16 words. In most instances, the groups or individuals who have attempted — and sometimes succeeded — violating this basic American tenet are of the fundamentalist Christian stripe. Because of this, I know I run the risk of coming off as being especially hard on one particular group.

However, another brewing controversy, also in Oklahoma, should prove my previous concerns regarding the separation of church and state valid. Before you read any further, remember: I was only trying to help.

“Since 2012, a monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments has sat outside the Capitol building in Oklahoma City, dedicated by state representative [and ordained deacon] Mike Ritze,” reported Slate’s Aisha Harris Friday. This representation of Moses’ tablets already has raised recent legal challenges.

“The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oklahoma Foundation filed a lawsuit today on behalf of several Oklahomans challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Ten Commandments Monument,” began the ACLU’s Aug. 20, 2013 press release. On Dec. 8, the Satanic Temple, a newly formed religious group, asked for equal representation at the Oklahoma Capitol as it applied for a permit and launched an online campaign to raise $20,000 for their own memorial “to complement and contrast” the Ten Commandments shrine.

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