Sunday, February 15, 2009

Does the GOP love prayer more than it hates gays?

I have to admit that now and then the Religious Right absolutely astounds me, rarely in a good way however. The depth of their irrationality is mind-boggling. Take this absurd question: Does the Religious Right love praying more than they hate homosexuals? On the face of it you would think that was an absurd question that can’t be answered. But in Oklahoma a bunch of Republican theocrats in the state legislature managed to answer the question.

When the state legislature convenes they bring in some minister who is asked to pray. After the prayer a member of the legislature rises and asks that the prayer be put into the official record of the session. This is routinely done.

Recently Rev. Scott Jones of the Cathedral of Hope from Oklahoma City was asked to give the prayer. Jones was new at this sort of mixing of church and state and asked about the protocol. He was told that before his prayer he could recognize the individuals who came to the legislature with him. This came from the Speaker of the House, Rep. Chris Benge. Rev. Jones mentioned his “loving partner and fiancé, Michael” along with others as being with him. And then he prayed. That was all he did.

At the end of his prayer it was moved that the prayer be put into the record of the day, as is usually done. But this time Theopublicans in the House started protesting. They wanted the prayer stricken from the record, not because the prayer itself was particularly offensive but because the man who prayed happens to be gay. Twenty members of the legislature voted to ban the prayer and another 17 were just too cowardly to vote. The vote to remove the prayer failed but still about a third of the legislators voted to ban it or refused to vote at all.

Jason Murphey, a Republican who represent Guthrie and God, in the House said: “For him to show up and not just pray; that would be one thing. But to introduce his fiancé and then have his fiancé be a guy – and then pray – that was an attack on the beliefs of a lot of Oklahomans and it was entirely inappropriate.”

Try to get a handle on what this man is saying. As far as I can see the fact that gay man prayed is now considered “an attack on the beliefs of a lot of Oklahomans”. I presume that having a black man pray is an attack on the beliefs of a lot of Oklahomans as well, especially those in the Klan. Rep. Murphey seems to be upset in part because he the word fiancé “got everybody thinking it’s his future wife”. Murphey was asked if the mere fact that Jones was gay was offensive to him and he replied that he’d have to give it some thought and refused to answer.

The move to strike the prayer from the record was led by Rep. John Wright from Broken Arrow (and heaven). Wright is also the leader of the Republicans in the House. Wright has been pretty quiet on the move but did say: “My actions were motivated by the faith.”

When the objection was made Jones says that members of legislature seemed confused and some rushed over to read his prayer trying to figure out what was so objectionable in it to cause this unprecedented move by the Republicans. Scott reports that when legislators were reminded that if they were in the room they had to vote yes or no on including the prayer “some of them fled” in order to abstain. He also printed his precise words before his prayer:
Mr. Speaker and esteemed representatives, I thank you for the opportunity to be present with you today as chaplain for the day. I want to thank my representative and good friend, the Honorable Al McAffrey for the invitation. I would also like to acknowledge guests who are present in the gallery – members of my congregation, the Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ. Joining them are dear friends, my wonderful parents, and my loving partner, Michael Cich
Well, I certainly can see what got the members from God’s Own Party (GOP) upset. It’s practically blasphemy. Here are the list of Oklahoma politicians who clearly hate homosexuals more than they love praying.

Rep. Gus Blackwell • Republican
Rep. Lewis Moore • Republican
Rep. Mike Christian • Republican
Rep. Jason Murphey • Republican
Rep. Ann Coody • Republican
Rep. Leslie Osborn • Republican
Rep. Rex Duncan • Republican
Rep. Pat Ownbey • Republican
Rep. John Enns • Republican
Rep. Mike Reynolds • Republican
Rep. George Faught • Republican
Rep. Mike Ritze • Republican
Rep. Dennis Johnson • Republican
Rep. Mike Sanders • Republican
Rep. Sally Kerns • Republican
Rep. Randy Terrill • Republican
Rep. Charles Key • Republican
Rep. Todd Thomsen • Republican
Rep. Guy Liebmann • Republican
Rep. John Wright • Republican

If Jonah Goldberg can’t get it through his thick head why decent libertarians can’t ally themselves with the modern conservative movement this demonstrates it well. All twenty of the morons in this case were Republicans. That is one third of all the elected Republicans. Remember another 17 fled the chambers in order to avoid a vote. Unfortunately I don’t have the names of those individuals but I suspect they were mostly Republicans as well. UPDATE: I was able to find the vote and compared the names of those absent to their party affiliation. Only five of the 17 absent votes were Democrats, the other 12 were all Republicans. Suspicion confirmed.

This incident just indicates how deeply the modern Repubican Party, as an arm of the Religious Right, is motivated by visceral hatred. If Republicans can’t understand why Obama won so easily all they need do is consider the image they present when they allow religious fanaticism to dominate their party.

Photo: Rev. Jones: guilty of the crime of praying while gay.

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