A group of citizens concerned about religious views spilling into legislation to be considered by Oklahoma lawmakers this year vowed Saturday to oppose the measures.
Some of the measures include legislation that was introduced last year, but stalled during the legislative process, such as a bill that would grant “personhood” status to a human embryo and another that opponents say could allow religion in public schools.
The conservative-leaning measures, if approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by a GOP governor, could interfere with a woman's choice to have an abortion and allow certain religious views to creep into public school classrooms, said members of the Oklahoma City chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. About 45 attended Saturday's meeting at the Belle Isle Public Library, 5501 N Villa Ave.
John Loghry, chapter president, said he is concerned the measures could pass this year because more Republican lawmakers who are more likely to support the legislation were elected in November. Republicans in the House of Representatives have increased their majority from 67-31 at the end of last year's session to 72-29. Republican senators increased from 32-16 to 36-12. Both are record highs for Republicans in either chamber.
“I don't think we necessarily have the check and balance between liberal and conservative,” Loghry said. “We definitely swung very conservative and I am afraid of the some of the legislation that may come out and the effects that it will have.”
Lawmakers return Monday to convene the first session of the 54th Legislature.
Loghry said he is also troubled about vague wording in some of the measures. They seem harmless on face value, but their intentions appear to be to inflict religious views on state laws.
“They come back again and again, they revise the language a little bit,” he said. “They all kind of vague it up in the hope that they'll be able to push it through without being specific.
“They're hoping to pass something vague that the churches will be able to view and interpret in such a way that they'll be able to get what they want, basically,” Loghry said. “They'll be able to get the religion in the schools and be able to chip away at education of evolution, global warming, human cloning.”