Gov. Stitt claims Oklahoma for Jesus, but Tuesday showed America is still a secular nation – for now.
Aldous J. Pennyfarthing – November 10, 2022
If there’s one big takeaway from Republicans’ tepid showing on Tuesday, it’s that women don’t want Jesus as their OB-GYN. I mean, he was a carpenter, after all. It really doesn’t translate. And it’s a totally different set of tools. Well, in most of the country, anyway. Not so sure about Oklahoma.
In the days leading up to the midterms, Republicans were pretty confident that they’d ride the inflation steamroller to a decisive congressional sweep. Instead, two days later, control of both houses remains in doubt, and the GOP is gobsmacked. Of course, religious extremism—mostly in the form of cruel and draconian abortion restrictions—played a big role in that belly flop. Have they learned their lesson? Pretty doubtful, since many of them have a really long way to go when it comes to fully endorsing religious diversity and the equal rights of nonbelievers.
Case in point: Gov. Kevin Stitt, who won reelection in ruby red Oklahoma on Tuesday, was filmed before the election claiming Oklahoma for Jesus. The whole state. Not just the churches and the Hobby Lobbys. Everything.
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STITT: “Father, we just claim Oklahoma for you. Every square inch, we claim it for you in the name of Jesus. Father, we can do nothing apart from you. We [wind noise] battle against flesh and blood, against principalities of darkness. Father, we just come against that, we just loose your will over our state right now in the name of Jesus. … We just thank you, we claim Oklahoma for you, as the authority that I have as governor, and the spiritual authority and the physical authority that you give me. I claim Oklahoma for you, that we will be a light to our country and to the world right here on stage. We thank you that your will is done on Tuesday and, Father, that you will have your way with our state, with our education system, with everything within the walls behind me and the rooms behind me, Lord, that you will root out corruption, you will bring the right people into this building, Father, from now on.”
“Are you there, God? It’s me, MAGA-rat. Can you maybe dial down the wind for a second until Gov. Stitt finishes shredding the First Amendment? That’s too much cacophony all at once, brother. Thanks!”
Now, it’s pretty bold—not to mention exclusionary and wildly inappropriate—for a sitting governor to claim an entire state for a single deity. Can we maybe set aside one synagogue and maybe an ashram or two for someone other than Jesus? Jesus doesn’t step foot in synagogues anyway, except maybe to ask for directions to Kirk Cameron’s house. But these folks have long had trouble imagining what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes—and they’re really not keen on secular government, which is supposed to represent everyone, whether they believe in Kevin Stitt’s god or not.
Of course, if Stitt wants to lay his grubby hands on Oklahoma on behalf of Jesus, he better get moving, because he’s running out of time. Tuesday made clear that Americans as a whole don’t want too much religion sprinkled in with their politics, and new polling backs that up.
A Pew Research survey conducted in September and released two weeks before the election found that while 45% of Americans want the U.S. to be a “Christian nation,” far fewer want religion to encroach on the political sphere. And while Christian nationalism is rising, it’s still running up against a firewall of church-state separation.
Overall, six-in-ten U.S. adults – including nearly seven-in-ten Christians – say they believe the founders “originally intended” for the U.S. to be a Christian nation. And 45% of U.S. adults – including about six-in-ten Christians – say they think the country “should be” a Christian nation. A third say the U.S. “is now” a Christian nation.
At the same time, a large majority of the public expresses some reservations about intermingling religion and government. For example, about three-quarters of U.S. adults (77%) say that churches and other houses of worship should not endorse candidates for political offices. Two-thirds (67%) say that religious institutions should keep out of political matters rather than expressing their views on day-to-day social or political questions. And the new survey – along with other recent Center research – makes clear that there is far more support for the idea of separation of church and state than opposition to it among Americans overall.
While it’s alarming that so many Americans think the Founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation (narrator: they didn’t), it’s a relief that most would still rather leave secular matters up to secular authorities. And it’s reasonably safe to assume that this is the high-water mark for religious fervor in this country. Gallup has been tracking religious sentiment in the U.S. for decades, and the number of people who claim to have no religious affiliation—currently at 21%—has steadily increased over the years. As recently as 1985, that number was just 1%. Meanwhile, the nation’s share of Christians continues to fall.
Could Tuesday be one of the first indications that the noxious religious-political stew that charlatans like the Rev. Jerry Falwell started cooking up in the ‘80s is finally about to spoil? They’ve brought us to the brink, but it appears they’ve gone as far as they possibly can if they want to keep dipping their fungal right-wing evangelical toes in our secular humanist soup.
Of course, that’s assuming they don’t take control by force and turn us into Gilead overnight. But that seems less likely now, even with this dude still looming out there:
Yeah, I didn’t want you to get too comfortable just yet. Sorry. Now do your best to enjoy the sad remainder of your now-squalid lives. I’ll see myself out.