After a federal court struck down as unconstitutional the voter-passed state question 755, which would have banned the use of shari’ah law in Oklahoma, Sally Kern, a Republican state representative, turned to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy to help her craft a new bill. This one doesn’t specifically ban shari’ah, but would ban the use of “foreign” law. Kern has defended the bill by saying, “How can you challenge a bill that’s just trying to protect constitutional rights and liberties?”
Recall that Gaffney was banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference because he is a “crazy bigot,” but that his presence, and the affection of many conservatives for him, were nonetheless clearly felt. And his influence is quite obviously being felt at the state level, where his claim that shari’ah threatens the constitution is treated seriously and model legislation drafted by his general counsel David Yerushalmi is being taken up by legislators like Kern.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations has launched a campaign to advocate against passage of the bill after it was moved out of committee earlier this month.
Kern is a dyed-in-the-wool Christian nation enthusiast who believes God called her to run for public office. Her husband, a Baptist preacher, is a member of 2008 Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin’s Black Regiment of pastors who seek to take back America from federal government “tyranny.” Membership requirements: candidates must be male, must be “the head of his own home, having his wife and children in subjection to his authority. No henpecked men here.” That’s more than a tad ironic, given that the anti-shari’ah crusaders are all in a tizzy over their claim that shari’ah law subjugates women.
Kern made national headlines in 2008 after she asserted that homosexuality is more dangerous to America than “terrorism or Islam.” The following year, she came out with her “Oklahoma Citizen’s Proclamation for Morality,” which blamed the country’s “economic woes” on “abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery.”
Kern believes herself to be carrying out God’s wishes. In a 2008 speech to a local Republican club, Kern asserted that God called her to run for office to be a culture warrior. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State had the rundown:
“I started praying about whether or not the Lord wanted me to run,” Kern said, according to a report in the Norman Transcript. “And the more I prayed, the more I felt He did…And so here I am, and I’m not the typical legislator. The Lord showed me right off the bat that I’m not supposed to be. As a matter of fact, my Lord made it very clear to me that I am a cultural warrior. And you know I tried to say ‘no’ to that, too, ’cause that’s pretty hard. But, anyway, that’s where I am.”
The life of a culture warrior is so hard, isn’t it?
But the Christian nation is only to be celebrated by certain kinds of Christians. After the opening prayer in the Oklahoma House was led by a gay minister who acknowleged his fiance, Kern was among the legislators who voted against having the prayer recorded in the House journal.
Kern’s legislative career has been a parade of Christian right endeavors. In 2005, she sponsored a resolution, which passed the Oklahoma House by an 81-3 margin, asking Oklahoma public libraries to “confine homosexually themed books and other age-inappropriate material to areas exclusively for adult access and distribution,” after one of her constituents complained that her child checked King and King out of her library’s children’s section. In 2006, she opposed a $1 increase in the state minimum wage — which was offered as an anti-poverty measure — because minimum wage workers are poorly educated and don’t spend their money wisely. For good measure, Kern also has hailed anti-union legislation. While Kern worries about the non-existent threat of shari’ah law being imposed on good Christians like herself, she would like to make sure that your kids are taught creationism in public school.
Perhaps Kern’s legislative act most lacking in self-awareness: in 2008, she sponsored a bill (which passed the legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry) that would have proscribed “religious viewpoint discrimination.” Kern frets that shari’ah — which isn’t even the set of strict laws she appears to think it is — will be imposed on Americans, but the speech of Christian kids in her Christian nation needs to be protected in the satanic public schools.
In explaining his decision to join Baldwin’s Black Regiment, Kern’s husband, Steve, said, “In this day, as we continue to lose more of our freedoms through entitlements, taxes and government infringement, I want to join with other pastors who believe it’s time to stand up and speak out.” Wait, what? Christians are losing their freedoms? Kern singled out hate crimes legislation as an infringement on religious freedom: “The goal of hate crimes legislation is to silence speech determined to be opposed to the homosexual lifestyle.”
Kern is also close to Paul Blair, a local pastor who also leads Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ and, along with Kern’s husband, joined Baldwin’s Black Regiment. In 2010, Americans United asked the IRS to investigate whether the Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, a non-profit, had illegally endorsed Kern’s candidacy. An email from the group supported Kern had asserted that:
In case you missed it, the homosexual lobby has recruited an individual that has had a sex change operation to run against Rep. Kern. The homosexual lobby from across America will be pouring money into this local race in an attempt to make a statement to the country by knocking out an outspoken Christian, pro-family representative. If they succeed, it will serve as a warning shot across the bough of all elected officials who defend Biblical values.
Kern’s opponent was the Democrat Brittany Novotny, Oklahoma’s first openly transgender candidate. Can you imagine Kern’s reaction if anyone in her race had sought to defend secular, a different set of Christian values, or — gasp! — Koranic values?
But perhaps the statements of Kern’s husband — who according to the edict of the Black Regiment, exercises spiritual authority over Rep. Kern — best explain her anti-Musim motivations. In a debate last month with the Rev. Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, Pastor Kern insisted that “the Constitution is a Christian document,” and that “this country is grounded in Christian principles.” All that “foreign” stuff need not apply.