Kern critics warn against using faith as wedge

By Devona Walker Modified: April 2, 2008 at 9:09 pm •  Published: April 2, 2008
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As hundreds gathered Wednesday to support Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, at the state Capitol, fewer than a dozen others gathered separately, warning of the dangers of divisiveness and sectarian politics.

Kern has said homosexuality was "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam." Kern also cited her Christian faith as the basis for refusing to accept the gay lifestyle and attempts to expose the "gay agenda."

"Religion can be a positive force. It's intended to be a positive voice for folks who may not have a voice," said the Rev. Jeff Hamilton, head of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma and a former state legislator. "The voice of religion should be speaking out against discrimination. ... my real worry is that in the legislative process, this sectarianism is used to institutionalize prejudice, institutionalize policies that affect negatively people on the margins of life. And that goes contrary to the Christian point of view and Jesus of Nazareth.

"You're entitled as a Christian to have your beliefs even though your factual basis is not sound, but you cannot cloak yourself in holiness and claim that everything you say is factually correct or biblically correct."

Tearing down the signs

Members of Parents and Friends of Gay and Lesbians, the Respect Diversity Foundation, the Cimarron Alliance and Oklahomans for Equality said they want to elevate the public debate waging between their camp and Kern's legislative office.

"My parents are alive today because of the actions of three Christians," said Michael Korenblit, president of the Respect Diversity Foundation.

Korenblit's parents narrowly survived the Holocaust, helped to safety by three Americans. At least one of his parents' saviors was killed by the Nazis for helping them escape. Years later, Korenblit asked children of the man who saved his parents why he risked his life for strangers.