By Sandhya Bathija
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Americans United has taken these words to heart, as it has many other statements made by Jefferson. AU strongly believes that the best way to bring about positive change and preserve religious freedom is to educate Americans on the importance of church-state separation, particularly at the grassroots level.
The Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United is doing a great job of this. Last Thursday, the chapter held an event that included a debate titled: “Resolved, the United States Constitution neither established nor advocates for a Christian nation.”
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The event drew a crowd of more than 170 people and featured two Baptist ministers debating differing interpretations of the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers wanted for the United States when it comes to religious liberty.
The Rev. Bruce Prescott, executive director of the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists and president of the Norman chapter of Americans United, argued that America was not established as a Christian nation and that the government is required to remain neutral on issues of religion. (Bruce is also a member of AU’s Board of Trustees.) The Rev. Steve Kern, a minister at Olivet Baptist Church and husband of Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), took the opposite stance, insisting that the Founding Fathers meant for our country to be a Christian nation.
It’s the same stance his wife, Sally, has taken. She claims she has been called by God to be a cultural warrior, and during her time in office she has attacked gay people, introduced legislation that would allow for creationism to be taught in public schools and signed a document declaring the United States is a Christian nation.
The debate between Prescott and Kern went on for more than an hour, with Kern reiterating over and over that “the Constitution is a Christian document,” and that “this country is grounded in Christian principles.”
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Prescott accurately defended church-state separation and America’s history as a nation with a secular government.
He said that Kern is “seriously misguided in his understanding of the Constitution,” and that in recent decades, Americans have been duped by “TV evangelists … who want to see this nation be Christian so badly that they’re willing to distort the truth.”
The entire debate between Kern and Prescott can be found at the AU Oklahoma Chapter’s website. I urge you to check it out.
We are grateful for the AU members working so hard in Oklahoma and all over the country.
They are truly committed to our Constitution and our Founding Fathers vision for America. Keep up the great work!