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State question 790 controversy

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Another hot topic facing Oklahoma voters next week is whether to allow public money to spent for religious purposes.

State Question 790 would repeal Section 5 of article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which bans the practice.  The proposal was inspired by the recent debate over a Ten Commandments monument that was located on the State Capitol grounds.

Pastor of Central Baptist Church Dr. Keith Miles says a repeal on this proposal would help fund different Christian based services like schools, day care centers, drug rehab centers and hospitals. He says this law is used to prevent different services from getting help.

Executive Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma, Ryan Kiesel says the state of Oklahoma and the federal government should not finance churches and religions. He said members of the institution should do that themselves.

"We need to have a fairness in our state where you are not condemned because you are a religious organization trying desperately to help society just on that emphasis, said Miles.

"The state question 790 would take away a very direct and simple command to the politicians of Oklahoma that they should not meddle with the deeply held religious belief of many Oklahomans. They should not and shall not use religion as a political weapon
, said Kiesel.

Miles said a repeal would help kids whose families rely on religious based institutions for help. 

" When we do that it prevents us from taking in another child or two because we are going to try and help
, said Miles.

Kiesel says if the proposal is voted down, absolutely nothing changes. He said institutions should not rely on the government for handouts. The only way to help them is for people of that religion to give more money.

"If anybody has sat in church and you passed around the offering plate, that's the way the religion chiefly finances themselves
, said Kiesel.

Doctor Miles says the proposal is not an effort to promote the Christian faith, above others, and points to the Ten Commandments as a historical institution.

"The laws of America are based upon the ten commandments. Thou shall not kill, so when somebody kills we take them to court and the reason we do is not because it is a religious thing it is a historical thing. We have used the commandments in such a fashion. If another organization than Christian can show that same kind of concept in the history of this country I would have no problem with them being right there
, said Miles.

But Kiesel believes it will have the effect of making others feel like second class citizens regardless of their religious beliefs.

"It was telling Oklahomans that if they didn't believe that particular way, the message that it sends is that if they didn't believe not only in just the ten commandments, but in that particular variant of the commandments because many different faiths have different ways of thinking of how the ten commandments should be worded
, said Kiesel.

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