Legislative Intent

I had lunch today with one of my favorite journalists. He is one of those reporters who if told by someone, “The sun will rise tomorrow morning,” would want to know how the source knows this will happen.

While we dined on some fine barbecue from Big Anthony’s, we discussed a few of the crazy things going on in the Oklahoma Capitol building. Neither of us was surprised by what was going on, but it did make me think of a phrase courts sometimes use to determine how a law actually works in the real world: legislative intent.

It seems many members of the Oklahoma legislature are concerned with their legislative intent proving the crazy ideas posed by some of their constituents are good enough for the rest of us living north of the Red River and south of Wichita.

Despite this type of legislative intent, and the seemingly constant supply of anti-Obama bills, the Oklahoma Constitution, in its first section, recognizes the Constitution of the United States as the supreme law of the land.

This same section, with apologies to Rep. Sally Kern and others, also says no one living here will be molested for their type of worship. There is a proviso at the end that does prohibit some activity. Read it yourself:

Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and
no inhabitant of the State shall ever be molested in person or
property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; and no
religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or
political rights. Polygamous or plural marriages are forever
prohibited.


I am ordering bumper stickers next week saying, “Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured.” I think our lawmakers need to refresh their understanding of what it means to exercise religion in Oklahoma. Religious sentiment is not a monolithic idol, nor a monolithic idea. May those who we elect come to this understanding.

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