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STROHM ON THE RUN: Using his legislative position to promote a very personal agenda

Image via Veronica Laizure Facebook page
Rep. Chuck Strohm running from interfaith activists outside his office at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Staying true to his cowardly and divisive nature (plus showing signs that he has a particularly nasty case of ARSEArrogant Republican Smugness Epidemic – it’s quite contagious!), State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks) opted to completely avoid addressing concerns by local interfaith leaders this week, along with the Oklahoma City chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK), in confronting problems linked to Strohm’s exclusionary Chaplain of the Day/Week program for the 2018 legislative session.

This is where legislators could pick a member of the clergy - as long as they are from their own house of worship - to give the day's opening prayer during the session. 

Strohm, along with his fellow Islamophobic Republicans in the House have done everything they could to thwart efforts by local Muslims to be treated fairly as fellow Oklahomans who deserve the same opportunities at the Capitol that the dominant Christians have long enjoyed. Imam Imad Enchassi found this out the hard way. Muslims, in Strohm's view, should never be allowed to give a prayer in what is exclusively Christian territory. It would simply be too much for the religious bigots to bear.

(Note: Strohm's flag pin in his official House photo below. The U.S. and Israeli flags are crossed - and that is to send a not-so-subtle message. It would appear that Strohm, like many reactionary, Christian supremacists want Jews to convert to Christianity to fulfill Bible prophecy. These are the types that pray for Armageddon to actually take place in Israel at some time in the not-too-distant future.

Examining Strohm's votes, issues and statements up to the present day, we are going to make a strong guess that Strohm is a believer in the ideas of Christian Zionism, a belief system that, among many other controversial positions - even amongst many Christians - views Muslims as "less than" and that they are essentially an impediment to the expected "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ.

This is all set against the historic return of the Jews to Israel in 1948, a key event in the eyes of Christian Zionists and their biblical interpretations. Essentially, they do not want peace between Israel and Palestine because it would get in the way of their "plan." Love, redemption and reconciliation do not fit into their worldview, which could be framed as being "anti-Christ," for people who truly understand the Bible and the actual teachings of Christ. This religious outlook seems to embody Strohm's whole view on governing and dealing with the public and the media, which is why it is not too surprising he uses his position of power in the legislature to discriminate against minority groups and faiths. 

And Christian Zionism, we should note, in no way encourages interfaith dialogue. So, essentially, Strohm is a lost cause when it comes to meeting with Muslim  and Jewish faith leaders or others who don't share his personal religious views). 

(Image via Oklahoma House of Representatives)

I say this because late Tuesday, Strohm made good on his promise of a “press release” and in it stated that “effective immediately,” the House Chaplain program would be switched so that there would no longer be different, invited members of the clergy to give the prayer at the start of each day of the session. Rather, allegedly modeled after the U.S. Congress system, the Oklahoma House would “utilize one individual to serve as Chaplain of the House, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House.”

Of course that person, to be selected by House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka), will be a Protestant Christian. I'll bet the farm on it. We put in a call to Speaker McCall, leaving a message with McCall's press secretary Jason Sutton. As of early Wednesday afternoon, Red Dirt Report had not heard from the speaker's office on this matter.

Speaking with CAIR-OK's Adam Soltani on Wednesday morning, said that while disappointed he was not surprised with Strohm's evasive action which leaves the matter at hand unaddressed and a bad taste in many peoples' mouths. 

Soltani noted that since the Chaplain for the Day/Week program is not being fixed by Strohm, the House should consider doing away with the program all together, since it is clear, by Strohm's actions, that the chaplain program is not being used to promote religious diversity. Instead, this all part of an effort being pushed by Strohm and other Republican legislators to "promote their own agenda through their own faith leaders," despite Strohm braying about the chaplain program not being used as a "platform to promote personal agendas." 

Our sources tell us that the rigid, Oral Roberts University grad and noted hypocrite is all about promoting his personal agenda, couched by his extremist Christian beliefs.

"It's getting more and more exclusive," Soltani said of the chaplain program. "It's a waste of taxpayer dollars and wasting our time." And he makes a good point. What of the separation of church and state? Why is a chaplain needed at all? Are there not more pressing issues worth addressing in our financially-strapped state?

That said, CAIR is still planning to monitor the situation going forward.

As will, Red Dirt Report. Stay tuned.

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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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