As a liberal Democrat who has only voted in Texas and Oklahoma, I am used to losing state and local elections – primaries, too. It comes with the territory. So, when Gov. Kevin Stitt defeated Joy Hofmeister by the standard 60-40 margin for gubernatorial races, I was not surprised.

          But, I was shocked to learn that I had lost another election that I did not even know was being run. As reported by The Oklahoman’s Carla Hinton (my sole source) Nov. 15 (and subsequently ignored by other news outlets as far as I can find), Stitt celebrated his victory, as captured on video, by proclaiming himself the Pope of Oklahoma. No, those weren’t his words, nor Hinton’s, but it is hard to draw any other conclusion when the governor prays:

          “Father, we just claim Oklahoma for You. Every square inch, we claim it for You in the name of Jesus….[With] the authority that I have as governor, and the spiritual authority and the physical authority that You give me, I claim Oklahoma for You, and we will be a light to our country and to the world, right here.”

          Who was Stitt running against for Supreme Leader? That race was not on my ballot. Heck, as an Archbishop of the Universal Ethician Church (complete with certificate), I might have thrown my miter into the ring.

          Religious leaders were predictably and justifiably outraged by Stitt’s overreach:

          • “Claiming a state for any religious figure is to deny what has made America unique as well as a violation of our foundational constitutional principles.” – American Jewish Committee

          • “Imagine the fury of Christians, and rightly so, were an elected official to claim Oklahoma for Allah or Satan. Stitt’s remarks as the state’s highest-ranking elected official are equally inflammatory and inappropriate. Stitt owes an apology to all non-Christian and nonreligious citizens of Oklahoma.” – Freedom From Religion Foundation.

          • “I am sad that Gov. Stitt does not recognize the dignity and sanctity of every individual Oklahoman. We come from many different faith traditions and I hope that he will take steps to learn more about the holiness of those who are not Christian, including those of other faiths, and no faith at all.” – Rabbi Vered Harris, spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City

          • “As the child of Holocaust survivors, my parents living here all their life, came here to America — that’s what he thinks about us? And that’s what he thinks about the Muslim people, thinks about Baha’i, Hindus, Buddhists — any other religions here and even nonbelievers? We’re glad that he has found belief in God and his religion to help as a civil servant. But that doesn’t mean he has the authority as he said as governor… to do this.” – Michael Korenblit, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City and president of the Respect Diversity Foundation

          No, the governor does not have ecclesiastical  powers. In fact, claiming such violates his oath of office to, “support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma.”

          The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment forbids “an establishment of religion”

          Gov. Stitt’s declaration that his brand of Christianity is preeminent is a blatant violation of what our State Constitution affirms as the ultimate law of the land. He has no authority to do so, but his rhetoric emphasizes that he considers non-Christians second-class citizens.

          So much for the value of a sworn oath by this publicly-posturing Christian.

          No, Gov. Stitt, you cannot claim “every square inch” of this state for your religion. The existing meeting places of other religions refute that ignorant, anti-American nonsense. And the Constitution of the United States gives me the right and power to answer your claim of the  religious annexation of my homestead:

          “Hey! You! Get off my lawn!”

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Hey, Governor, get off my lawn!

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