Oklahoma Governor Says 10 Commandments Monument Can Stay

Photo Source: Oklahoma Governor's office. File Photo.

Photo Source: Oklahoma Governor’s office. File Photo.

Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin has decided that the 10 Commandments Monument can stay on state capitol grounds.

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently ruled that the monument violates the Oklahoma State Constitution.  They made this ruling despite the fact that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that a similar monument in Texas does not violate the Constitution of the United States of America.

The reaction from legislators was predictable, with calls to impeach the Supreme Court members who voted against the monument, and development of legislation to let the people of Oklahoma vote on whether or not to remove the verbiage from the Oklahoma Constitution on which the ruling was made. Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, and now Governor Mary Fallin has announced that the monument can stay, pending this appeal.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Resistance to the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been growing in the Oklahoma legislature for quite a while. This legislature, unlike Congress, is not a paper tiger. It can and does legislate. It overturns vetoes and deep-sixes executive proposals on a regular basis. It also goes off and passes laws on its own.

Several bills reforming the nomination process for the judiciary have been considered in the past few years. I would not be surprised is this recent ruling gives them a fresh life.

From the Washington Post:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said that the state’s controversial Ten Commandments statue is staying put despite a state Supreme Court ruling ordering it to be taken off the statehouse grounds.

The state’s highest court handed down a broad 7-2 decision last week, which found that the monument violated the state’s constitution.

In statements issued Tuesday, Fallin defended the statue and said that “the court got it wrong.” She added that the statue will remain in place while the state appeals the court’s decision and the legislature considers changes to the constitution.

“Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions,” Fallin said. “However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.”

“At this time, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, with my support, has filed a petition requesting a rehearing of the Ten Commandments case. Additionally, our Legislature has signaled its support for pursuing changes to our state Constitution that will make it clear the Ten Commandments monument is legally permissible,” she added. “If legislative efforts are successful, the people of Oklahoma will get to vote on the issue.”

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“A Shepherd Cannot Run Away,” Father Stanley Rother, Martyr

This is my first blog post for the National Catholic Register. It’s about Father Stanley Rother, martyr, a priest who refused to flee his post to save himself.

American Martyr Fr. Stanley Rother: “A

Shepherd Cannot Leave His Flock”

“The reality is that we are in danger.
This is one of the reasons I have for staying in the face of physical harm.
The shepherd cannot run away at the first sign of danger. Pray for us…”
Father Stanley Rother, 18 months before his martyrdom

In Okarche Oklahoma, the sky goes on forever and the wind never stops blowing.

Father Stanley Rother lies in an unpretentious grave in a tiny church cemetery on a road that you’ll miss if you aren’t looking carefully. His grave, which is one of many with the name “Rother” on it, is marked by a simple black headstone. The only thing that sets it apart is the necklace of stones ringing its edges.

Father Rother began his life here, on this prairie, in this town. He was confirmed and baptized in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which is the only Catholic Church in Okarche. He offered his first Mass as a priest here.

His life ended in an isolated village in Guatemala when he fell in a hail of bullets. Last week, the Congregation of the Causes of Saints recognized Father Rother as a martyr, which puts him on the long road to official recognition as a saint of the Church.

Stanley Rother was as Oklahoman as the red dirt he tilled on his family’s farm


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/american-martyr-fr.-stanley-rother/#ixzz3f8wTMLa8

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Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection Executions in Oklahoma

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Global Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Global Panorama https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/

The United States Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s execution by lethal injection law on Monday.

Justice Alito said that the prisoners who petitioned the Court “failed to identify a known and available method of execution that entails a risk of lesser pain, of all Eighth Amendment execution claims.”

“By saying that there are no alternatives available, that doesn’t magically make whatever you were doing acceptable,” ACLU executive director, Ryan Kiesel said in response to the ruling.

From NewsChannel4:

OKLAHOMA CITY – Executions in Oklahoma are already being rescheduled after the Supreme Court upheld the decision to use a controversial drug for lethal injections.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office is on one side of the debate, while the Oklahoma ACLU is on another, but it’s the offenders on death row who will ultimately see the results of this decision.

The first execution could be as early as August 5.

Richard Glossip, one of the men who said the drug is cruel and unusual, will now face his ultimate fate.

“It’s like you’re in a tomb,” Glossip said during a rare death row interview with News Channel 4. “Just waiting to die so they can finish it off.”

He, along with three other inmates, argued midazolam would violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. It went before the Supreme Court.

 

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Oklahoma’s Supreme Court Orders 10 Commandments Plaque Removed from Capitol Grounds.

oklahoma-state-sealOklahoma’s State Supreme Court has ordered the removal of a 10 Commandments monument that was commissioned statutorily by the Oklahoma legislature from state capitol grounds.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt argued that the monument was nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the United State Supreme Court. The court ruled that the monument violated the Oklahoma Constitution, rather than the United States’ Constitution.

The Attorney General is considering what other options he might have in this case. among those options are amending the Oklahoma Constitution in the next legislative session. Here is the AG’s statement:

“Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law. Furthermore, the court’s incorrect interpretation of Article 2, Section 5 contradicts previous rulings of the court. In response, my office will file a petition with the court for a rehearing in light of the broader implications of this ruling on other areas of state law. Additionally, we are requesting a stay of the enforcement of the court’s order until the court can consider the petition for rehearing. Finally, if Article 2, Section 5 is going to be construed in such a manner by the court, it will be necessary to repeal it.”

Also from KOCO.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —A Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is a religious symbol and must be removed because it violates the state’s constitutional ban on using public property to benefit a religion, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The court said the Ten Commandments chiseled into the 6-foot-tall granite monument, which was privately funded by a Republican legislator, are “obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.”

The 7-2 ruling overturns a decision by a district court judge who determined the monument could stay. It prompted calls by a handful of Republican lawmakers for impeachment of the justices who said the monument must be removed.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt had argued that the monument was historical in nature and nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Oklahoma justices said the local monument violated the state’s constitution, not the U.S. Constitution. The Attorney General Office’s has filed for a rehearing in the case.

Private funds were used to erect the monument in 2012. Since then, others have asked for space, including a Nevada Hindu leader, animal rights advocates, the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a group pushing for a Satan statue.

 

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Archbishop Paul Coakley: The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

File Photo

File Photo

My spiritual leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, wrote a stirring letter to my diocese recently. I’m sharing it here without editing.

The Future of Marriage Hangs in the Balance

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

The recent media fascination with the “transition” of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn has highlighted the tragic confusion about gender and sexual difference in society today. Rooted in both natural law and divine revelation, our Catholic teaching affirms that men and women are equal and different. Together they are created in the image and likeness of God. Man and woman are designed by God in relation to one another to form a conjugal union that brings forth children. The consequences of this affirmation are far-reaching.

Sexual difference is essential to marriage and child rearing. Our bodies matter. We don’t just have a body. We are a body. Without this basis in sexual difference and complementarity, there is no limit to what “marriage” could mean.

Perhaps by the time this issue of the Sooner Catholic is published, and certainly by the end of June, the Supreme Court will have issued its ruling on two crucial questions dealing with the very definition of marriage. The questions the court is addressing ask whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to license a “marriage” between two people of the same sex, and whether the same amendment requires a state to recognize same sex “marriages,” which were lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

No matter how the court rules, it cannot change what marriage really is. Marriage by its nature remains the union of one man and one woman. It is a natural institution that predates and precedes governments and government regulation.

Every society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman matters because it creates the next generation. While Jesus elevated Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason even without appealing to Scripture.

Governments have long maintained an interest in protecting and preserving marriage. Society needs an institution that connects children to their mothers and fathers, and marriage is the only institution that does this. Every child has a mother and father and deserves to be loved and raised by them. Certainly, there are many circumstances that can hinder and prevent this, but marriage has always been the primary way that society protects this right of children to be raised by both a mother and a father. Both matter. Both are irreplaceable. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. A child should not be deliberately deprived of either one. There are certainly wonderful single parents and others who make great sacrifices to raise children. They deserve our respect and support. But, every society ought to affirm each child’s basic natural right to come from and be raised in a loving home formed by his or her own mother and father joined together in a stable marriage.

Law is a teacher. A redefinition of marriage in the law teaches that one sex is interchangeable with another, and that either mother or father is dispensable as a parent. This ignores the wisdom of millennia of lived experience. It teaches that marriage is whatever consenting adults say it is and that these adults have a “right” to children they did not conceive. This is not only false, but it fails to take into account what is good for the child. Affirming the tried and true definition of marriage denies no one their basic rights. Rather it affirms the equal dignity and complementarity of men and women, and safeguards the rights of children.

Advocates for so-called “marriage equality” claim that the traditional definition of marriage unjustly discriminates against homosexual persons. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. But treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination. Protecting marriage is a matter of justice.

In addition to the devastating effect that a redefinition of marriage would have on children, there also are far-reaching religious freedom issues at stake.

It would change literally thousands of laws all at once. Marriage redefinition would immediately set the Church’s teaching and witness concerning the meaning and sanctity of marriage in opposition to the law of the land. This would result in countless conflicts between the state and religious institutions and individuals who adhere to the teaching of their faith and the judgment of their consciences.

So much hangs in the balance. What can we do? We can pray and we can fast for the protection of marriage and religious liberty. We can become advocates for marriage by our own witness to its sanctity and goodness. We can talk about the truth of marriage with patience and kindness and understanding. Who could have imagined that such common sense wisdom would become so counter-cultural in our time?

i

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Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

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Beautiful Chalkboard Drawings from a 1917 Okie School Uncovered

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/

Photo Source: Flick Creative Commons by Todd Petrie https://www.flickr.com/photos/58869428@N05/

 

You’ve got to click on this link and look at these. They are beautiful.

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Former Oklahoma Rep Randy Terrill Begins Prison Sentence

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

My former colleague Representative Randy Terrill surrendered to authorities today. He is beginning a one-year prison sentence for bribery. He will also pay a $5,000 fine.

Rep Terrill and I fought one another to a fare-thee-well over immigration laws that he passed. Other times, on other issues, we agreed with one another.

But the important thing to me is not the issues. It is the tragedy of seeing someone I know go to prison. I will pray for Randy. He can come back from this and live a good life. I hope that is what he does.

From kfor.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A former State Representative turned himself into authorities Friday morning to begin service his sentence for his political bribery conviction.

Randy Terrill’s surrender comes exactly one week after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction.

He will be transferred to a state prison where he will serve one year for the crime.

He also has to pay a $5,000 fine.

His co-defendant, former State Senator Debbe Leftwich, is serving one year of probation.

 

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My Dead Will Stay Undecorated.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Goerhing https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Goerhing https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/

It’s Memorial Day.

Our big plan was to load Mama in the car and go on our annual cemetery safari, trotting around the state to put flowers on the graves of our dead family. We usually end up running into relatives we haven’t seen in a while for impromptu graveside reunions. We also enjoy the drive.

But springtime plans in Oklahoma are always subject to the weather. This year, the weather says that smart Okies stay off the highways.

Saturday night was another go round of storms and flooding. My husband went to vigil mass. The kids watch Mama every week so I can go to mass.

But, for some reason, I got sick. It was a funky sickness. I was just suddenly soooo tired that I told him I was too tired to go to mass. I know that sounds odd, but this was a tidal wave of tired, kinda like somebody reached out and thunked me on the head and said, “You ain’t goin’ to mass tonight.”

He went on, I stayed home, and the tornadoes and rains moved in. I ended up in the shelter with Mama while he was stranded on high ground, watching the flood waters roil around him.

In the midst of all this, Mama lost her teeth. Or rather, I should say that she hid her teeth and forgot where she hid them. We still haven’t found them.So it was tornado sirens, floods and hoisting a little old lady in and out of a storm shelter; all with an unending background of “I want my teeth.”

When my husband called, he said he was taking shelter from the floods in a car wash. I didn’t say anything to him. He wasn’t in a laughing mood. But between the teeth and sheltering his car from the floods in a car wash, I had a good laugh. I still laugh when I think about it.

Nobody was hurt. My husband was the only one who even got wet. Mama has gotten so she enjoys the drama of going to the shelter, kind of like a little kid. The only losers are our dead family, who, due to more incoming weather, will remain flowerless.

Here are a few videos of the good times for your amusement and amazement.

YouTube Preview Image

This is an area where we normally enjoy family recreation.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

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Hours in the Shelter, But We’re OK.

My wonderful husband, watching the storms on my computer. He's claustrophobic, so he sits on the stairs with the lid open. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My wonderful husband, watching the storms on my computer. He’s claustrophobic, so he sits on the stairs with the lid open. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Okies are kind to one another when disaster strikes. That’s what makes these things bearable. It’s also what allows us to rebuild and go on.

We spent several hours in the storm shelter last night. We went into the shelter, then came back out, and as the second wave of storms moved in, went back down again.

Mama and Me. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

Mama and Me. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

Mama was perfect the whole time. My husband just lifted her down into the shelter, and she was calm and trusting with him. She never complained and did what I told her to do without issue.

I picked her up early from her adult day care center. While I was driving her home, she talked mindlessly, as she does. I asked her to be quiet, simply because I was nervous about the storms and the constant chatter was difficult. She immediately shut up. (That’s kind of a miracle. :-) )

Mama doesn't like the light from my iPhone. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

Mama doesn’t like the light from my iPhone. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved.

It wasn’t a fun evening. But we came through just fine.

We were exchanging storm stories this morning. By that I mean everyone, everywhere I went. People were extra courteous, extra kind, extra helpful to other people.

Odd as it sounds, these things bind Okies together.

They say there are more storms coming in the next days. When they come, we’ll be ready.

 

 

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