Does Cargill Bill Violate State Constitution?

Taxes Continue To Fund Religion

House Speaker Lance Cargill (R-Harrah) has introduced a bill dealing with inmates’ reentry into society that, if passed, would be an obvious and direct violation of the Oklahoma Constitution’s strict separation of church and state.

Image of Picasso’s Guernica

Here is a passage (emphasis mine) from House Bill 2101 introduced by Cargill:

“There is hereby created in the State Treasury a revolving fund for the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives to be designated the ‘Reintegration of Inmates Revolving Fund’. The fund shall be a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal year limitations, and shall consist of monies received from appropriated funds to be used for grants to volunteer organizations including, but not limited to, faith-based organizations which provide health, educational or vocational training and programs that assist the reintegration efforts of the Reentry Policy Council. All monies accruing to the credit of the fund are hereby appropriated and may be budgeted and expended by the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. Expenditures from the fund shall be made upon warrants issued by the State Treasurer against claims filed as prescribed by law with the Director of State Finance for approval and payment.”

Here is a passage from Section II-5 of the Oklahoma Constitution:

“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

How can you reconcile funding “faith-based organizations” with taxpayer’s money when the state constitution clearly forbids it? Doesn’t this at least deserve more discussion and scrutiny? Don’t count on it.

(Here is the Web site of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in Oklahoma, which is taxpayer supported. Be sure to read the claims under its Value of Faith link.)

Cargill’s bill is yet another example of how Republicans, in particular, are set on tearing down the wall separating church and state. (But, unfortunately, there are a lot of Democrats in Oklahoma that want to do the same thing.) Overall, the faith-based initiative movement, advanced by the warmongering President George Bush and his declining number of apologists, is nothing more than a back-door way to funnel taxpayer money to right-wing Christian groups. Progressive religious groups may try to manipulate the system as well for money and power, but this religious intrusion in government is unconstitutional on the state and federal levels and should be stopped.

The religious right wants to use your tax dollars to fund a perpetual, bloody occupation of another country and those particular church groups who sanction the gruesome violence. They want your money. The fix is in, folks, and your taxes are paying for it.

Greenwald The Great

Glenn Greenwald is writing one of the best blogs in the country right now. His blog appears on Greenwald exposes the corporate media for right-wing bias in a methodical manner, using immense textual evidence.

What I especially appreciate about Greenwald’s arguments is how he holds the corporate media accountable for their mistakes in supporting the Iraq invasion and ensuing occupation. He also shows how the media has a definite conservative bias. Why are those corporate media columnists who were so wrong about Iraq still getting published at The Washington Post and New York Times? How can you be so wrong about the most important event in a generation and still serve as a political analyst for a major media company? Has the corporate media lost all standards in its quest for greater profits? Greenwald’s writing implicitly asks these questions.

I know I’m repeating myself here to my regular readers. But there were those of us who opposed the Iraq invasion publicly and loudly before it even happened, and then predicted each and every mistake made by the Bush administration in the subsequent occupation. We did so at great personal risk. Some of us were marginalized and ridiculed for our positions. We were threatened and harassed. Now our political positions, articulated as earlier as 2002, are held by a vast majority of Americans, but many who were wrong still hold major editorial positions at our country’s largest media companies and are still rewarded by our country’s public institutions.

So allow me to make another prediction that will undoubtedly prove just as true as my predictions about Iraq. The corporate media is doomed unless it begins to reward those who were so obviously right about Iraq. These are the people who need more column space, more money, and more recognition. The people who were dreadfully wrong should be publicly discredited if not outright fired. The mainstream media loses credibility by the hour for ignoring the basic human principle of right and wrong. It’s bad for their businesses, and it’s bad for the country.

Is it too late to correct the fundamental error that exists within the mainstream media today?




Maybe I take a different approach at this about what the OK Constitution says and what the bill allows, but just because the bill allows for something doesn't necessarily means it supports or benefits any one thing over another either directly or indirectly. In other words, the monies allowed to be used at religious institutions doesn't mean that the state thereby supports a particular religious institutions. This issue has been dealt by the Supreme Court on several occasions, and they've concluded that if the money is not directly issued to a specific church/religion (i.e. it's available to all religious and non-religious associations alike), that money does not endorse that organization.

Basically, I see a difference in the terms "support/endorse/benefit" and "allow/permit." If you see otherwise, I'd love to hear your explanation.

The Captain

Thanks for your comment. The line in the constitution that argues no public money should go for the "use, benefit or support" of any religion seems clear to me, though I guess we can debate what those terms mean. It seems to me that if tax money is given to a religious group operating, say, a drug rehabilitation program for recently released inmates, then that money is being "used" by a particular religion, which is most likely to be Christianity. It's being used by the group even if its particular program is not conversion centered, i.e., you must convert to Christianity in order to complete the program.