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Strohm has "the fear"

Image via Veronica Laizure Facebook page
Screenshot of State Rep. Chuck Strohm, a Republican legislator who seems to only like and represent folks who share his Christian faith. We may learn otherwise when he gets around to a forthcoming "press release" ...
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Mick Cornett. Scott Pruitt. David Holt. Tom Cole. James Inhofe. Anthony Sykes. Greg Treat. Markwayne Mullin. Earl Sears. John Bennett. Jim Bridenstine …

And the list goes on and on of Republican politicians from Oklahoma who absolutely refuse to answer tough questions when called out on it by independent media and/or the people they claim to represent.

On the national scene, cantankerous old fart and all-around unpleasant career politician Jim Inhofe was recently visited at his plush Washington office by some inquisitive high school students from Lawton. While he answered some of their questions, Inhofe-being-Inhofe, refused to answer one from a Lawton senior named Tate Michener. The student had the gall – the sheer gall! – to ask the fatuous senator what he thought about the pay gap between men and women who perform the same jobs.

As Michener told The Washington Post, in a story published earlier this month following their visit to Capitol Hill: “(Inhofe) said he didn’t agree with the premise of the question, so he wasn’t going to answer it.”

And there you have it. A perfect example of the elitist arrogance that is so rife amongst Republicans in Washington. Sadly, the same can also be said of Republican representatives in Oklahoma City.

Oh there are some Democrats who have refused to answer my questions over the years (surprisingly, Democratic congressional candidate Kendra Horn, running against Steve Russell in the OK-5 is one of them, hopefully that will change), but this disease is like a hyper-contagious airborne plague when Republicans sense that their positions on a particular matter are being questioned.

CHRISTIAN SUPREMACY IN "THE PEOPLE'S HOUSE"?

So, let’s get to the matter at hand. State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks) is this session’s “Chaplain Coordinator." Like, wow, Scoob! And so Chucky sent out a memo to (presumably) all of the legislators dictating that the House’s “Chaplain Program” is not a “platform for personal agendas” but is a chance for House members to “take a moment while the Chaplain asks for God’s hand to guide us before commencing work on the People’s business.” Goodness me! Pass the offering plate while you're at it. So insufferable!

But as we noted in our piece last week, Strohm is only interested in certain “People” being represented, and thinks only people who worship a certain “God” are allowed to offer a prayer before the legislative body at 23rd and Lincoln.

How else are we to interpret his memo? Since he has so far utterly refused to explain himself. Looks like Chucky is the latest “Christian conservative” infected with Arrogant Republican Smugness Epidemic, or ARSE.

Some say ARSE is a very serious condition. Next to ibogaine addiction, it's pretty damn bad. The victim’s head is often discovered stuck up said ARSE.

In any event, Red Dirt Report tried to get Strohm to explain himself (he doesn’t put his email address on his legislative page – another example of a Republican with something to hide). But it’s the non-Christian faith leaders in the state, guys like Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, who deserve answers. An honest, straightforward legislator who claims to represent the people of Oklahoma should be willing to talk with a member of the public about any and all issues, particularly those that affect the citizen personally. You would think ... 

After all, it was Enchassi who was cordially invited by State Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) last year to be a “clergy member of the day” for the 2017 legislative session. The imam went so far as to apply to do so, only to have his application summarily rejected by ARSE victim Chuck Strohm – no reason given.

Of course with this recent clutch of retrograde, Christian supremacists running our state into the ground, it’s no surprise that Chuck Strohm blocked Enchassi’s attempt to address our state’s legislators. The imam might have stated something that cut a little too close to the bone for some of those ARSE-afflicted, Islamophobic legislators – you know, the ones that fear non-issues like "creeping Shariah law" or any of the other insulting statements they’ve made against Muslims over the years.  

And being the “safe space” snowflakes that they are, Strohm and his fellow Okie GOP’ers can’t be challenged. No sir!

After all, GOD HIMSELF put Strohm and his fellow Christian soldiers in office (not the People, of course, the ones Strohm does not want to answer to) and since they have a direct line to the BIG GUY, who is this Imam Enchassi think he is trying to horn in on what is Christian territory only. The message? Get lost Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc. … NON-CHRISTIANS NOT ALLOWED!

Of course Strohm and his co-horts will likely deny this. But when pretty much everyone in the legislature is Christian and Strohm says that you can only invite someone from your own house of worship – well, you don’t have to read between the lines.

So, as this situation has gained steam, the Oklahoma City chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK), including Adam Soltani, Veronica Laizure and Lani Habrock, joined sensible, kindhearted folks like the Rev. Shannon Fleck and the Rev. Lori Walke with the Oklahoma Congress of Churches – who were also at the Capitol on Monday meeting with lawmakers – gathered outside Strohm’s legislative office hoping to speak with him about this matter.

And while Strohm’s legislative assistant was friendly, and took notes and other information down, Strohm himself was hiding in his office, claiming to be “on the phone.” The concerned citizens said they would wait. And these 40-or-so individuals waited for a while to get that chance to speak to Strohm.

One can only imagine the sweating, swearing and hand-wringing Chucky was experiencing as he hoped to wait out the activists outside his door.

Fortunately, CAIR’s Veronica Laizure got all of the encounter on video on her Facebook page and when the Jenks Republican finally had to leave his office – there was no fire escape for him to climb down – he was forced to face the group, his sweat-soaked, Oxford-cloth shirt clinging to his skin. 

Watching Laizure’s video, it is clear that Strohm is annoyed, looking like some cornfed rube with a shit-eating grin, wishing and praying that his GOD would blink and send him anywhere but there at that very moment.

You can almost hear Strohm's eyes rolling when Rev. Fleck asks him how he justifies only inviting people from a legislator’s house of worship, he avoids answering the question and flatly states he is “issuing a press release” later this week.

Looking Strohm straight in the eye, Fleck said: “We really want to know what the goal is for a legislator being limited to only nominate people from their own house of worship, because that limits so much. The inter-faith community, as well as legislators who may not even attend a house of worship. It’s making a lot of assumptions, don’t you think?”

Again, Strohm completely ignored what Fleck said and mumbled that a press release would be issued later in the week. "Press release" are Strohm's safe words.

Meanwhile, Imam Enchassi, also looking directly at the shifty-eyed legislator, asked Strohm why he denied his application to be clergy for a day. With beads of sweat forming on his forehead, Strohm dismissed Enchassi, again mumbling something that sounded like “thanks” to the assembled folks outside his office door.

It was clear that Strohm was not about to give his answer to Enchassi right then and there, only further embarrassing himself in front of a group that consisted of many fellow Christians, we should note. Better to hide behind some future “press release,” because we all know that that is what upright, honest politicians of good moral character do when they are forced to explain their actions, however odious they may be.

And then, as if he was preparing for a spring marathon, Strohm high-tailed it down the hall. Clearly his ARSE condition also showed that he had "the fear," as well.

Talking to CAIR’s Adam Soltani sometime later, he told Red Dirt Report that it was clear that Strohm was “frustrated, annoyed, unhappy, dismissive” and “not cordial or friendly at all,” when he was forced to confront CAIR and the religious activists outside of his office.

“He’s avoiding the issue,” Soltani said. “He refuses to listen to the Muslim community and, frankly, a whole diverse community that includes many Christians. He seemed to be not that concerned.”

Soltani said Strohm needs to understand that this rule is “offensive and hurtful” and that many non-Christian faith traditions would be affected.

Additionally, when we spoke with CAIR’s Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure, who took the very eye-opening video of Strohm, she said CAIR will continue to work with the Interfaith Alliance and the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and see this matter through.

In the meantime, we wait for Strohm’s alleged “press release.” 

We're not holding our breath.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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