Praying for Theocracy in Okla.

Last time we checked in on the Oklahoma legislature, some members were trying (unsuccessfully) to remove from the official record … Continued

Last time we checked in on the Oklahoma legislature, some members were trying (unsuccessfully) to remove from the official record a session-opening prayer delivered by Rev. Scott H. Jones, pastor of Oklahoma City’s Cathedral of Hope who happened to mention his “loving partner and fiance, Michael.”

No objection was made after a more recent opening-session prayer delivered by Rev. Wade Burleson, pastor of Enid’s Emmanuel Baptist Church who happened to mention his disdain for atheists and secular humanists: “Let the secular humanists lead the socialists, let the atheists lead the totalitarian governmental regimes, but may only believers in God lead our democracy,” Burleson said.

I think they call that a theocracy. Burleson’s prayer reminds me of a line from a song by Oklahoma native Garth Brooks: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

In his prayerful remarks, Burleson singled out one atheist in particular, Dr. Richard Dawkins — well-known evolutionary biologist, On Faith panelist and author of “The God Delusion” — who had spoken earlier in the month at the University of Oklahoma.

One Oklahoma legislator had tried to get his colleagues to adopt resolutions opposing the Dawkins invitation and condemning Dawkins and evolution. The resolutions never came to a vote, but afterward, Rep. Rebecca Hamilton began an investigation into the university’s handling of the Dawkins invitation.

Which reminds me of something another native Oklahoman, Will Rogers, once said: “About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

I’ve never understood why so many politicians feel the need to sponsor public prayers at non-religious public gatherings. Do they think God can only hear prayers spoken out loud in groups? Is their God hard of hearing?

And why turn secular gatherings into sectarian proving grounds? Are they merely pandering for votes or do they think their particular religious beliefs should supercede the nonsectarian principles enshrined in the constitution?

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  • WmarkW

    Mr. Waters, I don’t know what the secularist equivalent of “preaching to the choir” is, but you’re doing it.

  • michael_from_sydney

    WMARKW, Mr Waters may be preaching to the choir, but that doesn’t make his point invalid. I’m a devout Catholic, attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation (and every weekday if my work allows it), I pray the Rosary every day, pray the Liturgy of the Hours three times a day, read through the Scriptures every year, give amply to my Church, and donate both my time and my money to worthy causes because I am so grateful to God for the gift of life, and to Jesus for the gift of my soul’s salvation from sin. But I completely agree with Mr Waters that it is inappropriate and outrageous for elected officials, who are duty bound to govern for all regardless of their faith, to push their own particular faith on society at large in their capacity as an elected official. You see, I am a devout Catholic, and I believe that unless a person has been consecrated by God to be an ordained minister (bishop, priest or deacon) in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, they should not presume to speak in God’s name by preaching homilies in public chambers such as a Congress, Assembly or Court. As a Catholic, I regard such officials as stepping way over the line in exceeding their brief – which is to exercise their functions under the Constitution, not aggrandise themselves as self-proclaimed “ministers” of God’s Word.

  • samuraitinkertoy

    the last gasp of the fundamentalists is in full swing. their potential inheritors will have to live with the damage they leave behind. those individuals are unlikely to continue the same course. inflexible paranoid belief systems tend to stew in their own juices. short lived but can be poisonous to the participants.

  • phoenixresearch

    The hypocrites always do so on a public stage, in defiance of their own Savior’s words …From Matthew 6:5-6, reportedly in Jesus’ own words …”And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. … But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. … .”Ironic that being a True Follower mandates doing your prayers in private.I have seen many a Fundamentalist’s head explode when pointing this out to them.

  • Athena4

    Well, now we know where Spidermean comes from and what he does – he’s an Oklahoma State Legislator!

  • ThishowIseeit

    Waters,

  • ThomasBaum

    DAVID WATERSIn your article you wrote, “No objection was made after a more recent opening-session prayer delivered by Rev. Wade Burleson, pastor of Enid’s Emmanuel Baptist Church who happened to mention his disdain for atheists and secular humanists: “Let the secular humanists lead the socialists, let the atheists lead the totalitarian governmental regimes, but may only believers in God lead our democracy,” Burleson said.”What this pastor said has absolutely nothing to do with what Jesus taught and why He became One of us.God did not become One of us to set up a theocracy on earth, not even close.As a matter of fact, there are some that are “non-believers” that are more “Christian” than some so-called “believers”, God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof.God looks at the person, not the label.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • wrogers2

    I spent my elementary school years in Oklahoma, continually bombarded by heavy handed protestant proselytization. The idea that anyone would not eagerly accept their vision of the world was beyond the ken of those Christians. Sounds like nothing’s changed in the 50+ years since.

  • aredant

    4000 people paid to see Dawkins at Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis. I have met him several times and he is amazingly articulate and rational – and a bit shy in person. When he spoke in OK he declined a speaking fee. Then witch smeller Hamilton calls for an investigation into all transactions related for him to speak. Must be all the manure and oil getting into the ground water.

  • TOMHERE

    They want to use the force of government to shove their beliefs down our throats, and to take our tax money to support their mythologies.

  • baddabing1

    Good point – just what is up with them anyway, that they have to be SEEN to pray. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” So… whose Bible are these guys reading?

  • mwcob

    It’s a theocracy when one very narrow religious viewpoint triumphs over the will of the people. One isolated prayer here and there is hardly a major ideological wave. Besides – we’ve had more religiously inactive Presidents lately than religious ones. Then there’s the fact that being a born-again Christian doesn’t make you a Republican, and being an astrology-reader doesn’t make you a Democrat: Carter was WAY more religious than Reagan. But you’ll never hear either side admit it. In the meantime – let’s not turn into a nation of lemmings.

  • dcwca

    Let the secularists and atheists find their Rome and fall with it themseleves. If we dont change our direction here, though, they will do their damage and so shall we fall also. Sadly, we are headed that way due to their forsaking of the Creator. They let those that are extreme be the example to deny God. It is mans problem, but their unbelief only makes it worse To believe these that tout immorality and twisted ethics (atheists and secularists)will bring a better America is pure folly. They won’t. Not one society that embraced homosexuality and other perversions did not last very long after it became the ‘norm’ (which it is far from normal). They imploded on themselves. We will not be any different. When God is completely or near completely pushed out of the picture, bad things start happening to nations. The handwriting is on the wall. And things are starting to happen.

  • DMZ1

    DCWCA:Wow. Do you revel in your bigotry or does it just come naturally?Atheists tout immorality and twisted ethics? Really? I’m an atheist, but I didn’t know I did that. Oh, I get it, supporting equal rights for all Americans is touting immorality. Whoever you are, you are exactly why atheists are a lot more vocal these days. You are a clear and present danger to the freedom of all Americans.

  • jaxas

    Socialists? Secular Humanists? Totalitarians? Look. I am not much of a believer in these ancient fantasies. Anyone with even a modest collection of brain cells can tell you that scientif disciveries over the past few centuries have upended much of what we once considered unalterable truth.We know now that the Biblical depiction of Creation cannot possibly be true. We know because a calculation of the rate of decay simple carbon isotope from any part of the earth reveals the particular age of that isotope and to date, the oldest we have found indicates the age of the earth in billions of years.Yet, zealots from within many different religious traditions continue to peddle the laughable nonsense that some invisible SuperBeing created the earth and us some 6000 years ago, who or what this Being is and for what purpose would it create all of this. What is this SuperBeing? And why do we always refer to it as He. Does it even qualify dor such human related descriptions?It is a useless argument that never, ever arrives at a destination that can in any way be regarded as a firm conclusion.

  • coloradodog

    The same Baptists who allow the Westboro, KS, church to use their name and do not denounce it’s terrorism. Jesus is real proud of you all.

  • Civilius

    This theocratic tendency is shockingly common in today’s Republican Party, many who eagerly advocate restricting religious freedom & individual liberty based on religious arguments in areas of abortion & gay marriage (both of which many religious & non-religious institutions in the U.S. accept). This is exactly why Republican politicians on the federal level have been laregly voted out of office except for the Bible Belt…today’s national Republican Party is too theocratic for most Americans.

  • DMZ1

    WMARKW:First, we atheists also call it ‘preaching to the choir’. We grew up with you guys as a majority you know.Second, so what? He’s not wrong. Or, do you think it’s OK to advocate anti-Constitutional nonsense as an elected official? Plus, you believers in a god haven’t done very well running the country, at least in terms of morality. Let’s see, millions killed in genocide against Native Americans, millions killed in the slavery business, millions abused by segregation – all justified with the bible.

  • Comunista

    Fully agreed w/ Michael_From_Sydney, and coming from the same general religious background there. What I don’t understand is why so much effort by politicians is put towards this petty sectarian pandering, when really none of the religions (or secular philosophies) being upheld by most of these people insist that they focus their energy and sweat into that nonsense, rather than trying to bridge differences and extend a hand to the rest of humanity. It feels way too much like the same ol’ political BSing and wasting of time, on a different hot-button, divisive topic. I’ve never seen understood why legislators spend so much time and effort drafting up resolutions that are nothing more than a ‘stern expression of opinion’, like that matters. Especially when it comes to something the state has no business commenting on (religion).

  • hyjanks

    This has been going on since man conceived of gods (Surprise! It’s not the other way around!). According to one book I read on comparative religion, there are or have been over TEN THOUSAND gods since the dawn of written history (“god knows” how many spooks, ghosts, angels, and other ethereal beings man came up with before he could express his history in writing).

  • bevjims1

    Waters wrote: “Are they merely pandering for votes or do they think their particular religious beliefs should supercede the nonsectarian principles enshrined in the constitution?”Both. I don’t see why that is hard to miss. You gotta remember that they live in the bible belt, have constituents who can get whipped up by a Sunday service more than Muslims in Iraq whipped up by a Friday service. The will come out of their service and call their legislator and complain about whever the minister was complaining about. Whether a legislator feels the university had a right or not to invite Dawkins they must act or another Sunday service will talk about how God was attacked as the legislator stood idly by. The legislature is not the problem, just a symptom of the problem. The real problem is OK churches and others around the nation getting involved in politics by influencing their flock. A theocracy by proxy.

  • Nosmanic

    DCWCA are you sure Atheist are immoral and not Fundamentalists with supported a president that allowed torture?Atheist havn’t done anything.

  • webg

    Wow, I wonder what Oklahoma’s large Native American population thinks about Burleson’s “Christians Only” policy regarding government leaders, now apparently sanctioned by the Senate. As I recall there was a lot of anti-“heathen” sentiment behind the horrible treatment of Indians in the 1800s.

  • mcroriel

    Hyjanks: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Amen.American Fundamentalists (and I was raised one) should realize their enemy isn’t gays or socialists, it’s the Discovery Channel. Education is a powerful thing. So is ignorance. Which is why they limit their children’s study to the Bible (Koran? same thing).Prayers in public political venues are nothing more than cultural chest beating and should be eliminated.

  • oldekirk32

    I am a devout non believer and cannot understand why sessions of the government have to be opened with a prayer and a Christian prayer at that.

  • outragex

    I believe in God. Right now, I am thanking my Creator that I don’t live in Oklahoma. Or was this article an April’s Fool story that was published late?

  • colinnicholas

    Michael from Sydney;As far as we know there are no gods and never were. We can celebrate the wonder of existence without recourse to infantile superstitions. Sam Harris says it best;”Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. The universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being , and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. The consciousness that animates us is itself central to this mystery and the ground for any experience we might wish to call “spiritual.” No myths need be embraced for us to commune with the profundity of our circumstance. No personal God need be worshiped for us to live in awe at the beauty and immensity of creation. No tribal fiction need be rehearsed for us to realize, one fine day, that we do, in fact, love our neighbors, that our happiness is inextricable from their own, and that our interdependence demands that people everywhere be given the opportunity to flourish. The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered. Whether the days of civilization itself are numbered would seem to depend , rather too much, on how soon we realize this.”Sam Harris. “The End of Faith” p.227.

  • obx2004

    Oldekirk32:I’m starting to think that the reason they use the Christian prayer is because, deep down, they despise non-Christians. You hear them speak ill of the Jews, of Muslims, of Hindus, etc. Agnostics and Atheists are probably the #1 enemy. You know, the whole “critical thought” thing that they fear.Many Christians try to temper that in public by appealing to a “let’s all get along” mentality, but I get the impression that they look upon all of us with contempt.Believe me, if they could get away with executing anyone who displeased them, Oklahoma and many parts of the US would be littered with corpses.

  • kgammons

    Anyone interested in Wade Burleson’s book, HARDBALL RELIGION: FEELING THE FURY OF FUNDAMENTALISM, can check it out at

  • KingDavidRetired

    What makes the atheist think or secular humanist believe that those who believe in God and act in the commandments of God, which is in complete essence to love God and love your neighbor and is what the entire Biblical commandments direct us to do, that the world can and should be governed without the “prayers” and without leaders who are not good practicing Christians. Faith in God is more of a deed then of belief. If leaders would submit they’re will to the direction of God, both in Biblical truths and in faithful acts of charity and work toward justice, then in what in the love of God and the love of neighbors, if acts done in truth and love, would be anything but beneficial to the country as a whole. The aspirations of the moral character of the right and the aspirations of the social character of the left are most certainly both incorporated in the truths of God and in His people. If faithful and loving Christians were to be fully in power, whether from the right or left, if governed in love and faith, then how could this be worse than the indifference and selfishness of the atheist and the hypocrisy and worldliness and secular humanists? If the motivation of politicians of the conservative ideology to govern with all Christian leaders is to build the world upon the love of God and the love of neighbors and to seek moral good AND social justice with this love, then how can this not have merit to it. However, to seek Christian power without Christian values is not Christian.

  • ThomasBaum

    FARNAZ2You wrote, “I have no problem with Christians praying to the Jesus Christ who never existed, the mangod delivered by a Virgin via the deity, subsequently resurrected, presumably to join the other ancient near east deities also resurrected.”Just who are these “other ancient near east deities also resurreceted”?You also wrote, “However, they should keep this blather to themselves.”As far as trying to force someone’s belief on another, that is not only against what the United States stands for but is also against what Jesus taught, but as for speaking about God, Who is a Trinity and Pure Love and Jesus Who did “exist” and is also God-Incarnate, we still have freedom of speech and freedom of religion here in the United States.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    KingDavidRetiredYou wrote, ” If faithful and loving Christians were to be fully in power, whether from the right or left, if governed in love and faith, then how could this be worse than the indifference and selfishness of the atheist and the hypocrisy and worldliness and secular humanists?”Jesus never even came close to teaching that we are to set up a theocracy.Also, when you wrote, “the indifference and selfishness of the atheist and the hypocrisy and worldliness and secular humanists”, can you look into people’s hearts? As I have said many times, “God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof”, also God looks at the person not at the label.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Farnaz2

    I have no problem with Christians praying to the Jesus Christ who never existed, the mangod delivered by a Virgin via the deity, subsequently resurrected, presumably to join the other ancient near east deities also resurrected. However, they should keep this blather to themselves. It has no place in the public sphere. The endless attempts of the Christians, including the Catholics, to legislate their delusions is a violation of disestablishment. The ending of these attempts, by law, the demise of “faith-based funding” (dollars for delusion) and of nonprofit status for religious institutions are events devoutly to be wished.