An Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma has come up with a sneaky way to bar Jews and Muslims from delivering daily prayers at the state’s legislature.
Local news station News9.com reports that Oklahoma State Rep. Chuck Strohm has issued new guidelines for statehouse prayer services that state lawmakers may only invite representatives from their own places of worship to lead daily prayers.
While this rule does not specifically bar Muslims and Jews from delivering prayers for the legislature, it would in effect prohibit them from doing so since all lawmakers in the statehouse are Christians.
Multiple religious groups — including the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City and the Council on American Islamic Relations Oklahoma — have spoken out against the new rule, as has local pastor Lori Walke, who is the wife of Democratic state Rep. Collin Walke.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Dean Obeidallah explains that these new guidelines are particularly troubling given the hostility shown toward Muslims by Oklahoma state lawmakers in the past decade.
“In 2010, Oklahoma was the first state to ever try to ban Sharia law,” he writes. “That measure though was blocked by a federal judge because it unconstitutionally singled out Islam. Add to that, the GOP proponents of the law even admitted to the court there were zero examples of Muslims in Oklahoma trying to impose Sharia law.”