(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 2/28/2018) – The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations (CAIR-OK) today joined Muslim and interfaith leaders in condemning Rep. Chuck Strohm’s refusal to address his discriminatory House chaplain policy and offer a real solution.

Yesterday Rep. Strohm issued a statement that offered no explanation for his denial of Rep. Jason Dunnington’s request to have Imam Imad Enchassi of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City be Chaplain of the Day during the 2017 Legislative session.

SEE: House Chaplain Changes Do Not Resolve Discrimination Concerns, CAIR Says
SEE: Interfaith Leaders Head to the Oklahoma Capitol to Protest Change to Chaplain Program

Rep. Strohm released the following statement from his office:

“The House of Representatives will transition its Chaplain Program, effectively immediately, to a model similar to that used by Congress. The Congressional model has previously been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Those members of the clergy who have already been submitted and approved to serve as Chaplain under the old system will be allowed to provide the invocation for the House this session on the dates they have been approved for. Through the end of the 56th Legislature, the House will utilize one individual to serve as Chaplain of the House, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House.”

SEE: Guest chaplains, Office of the Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives:

CAIR Oklahoma Government Affairs Director Lani Habrock offers the following assessment of Rep. Strohm’s proposal: 

“Some of our representatives have tried to use this program to take steps toward inclusivity; however, Representative Strohm is attempting to use it in order to perpetuate discrimination. Although he may say he is simply following the template and guidelines of national policy, he is circumventing everything about the national chaplain program that makes it inclusive and is cherry-picking only the protocols that reinforce discrimination.”

Rev. Shannon Fleck, Director of Community Engagement for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches had the following to add: 

“It remains vastly unfortunate that those who govern this beautiful state, seek to eliminate voices of diversity within our State Capitol. The response from Representative Strohm, which has taken almost a year to receive, does not address the chaplain program’s refusal to allow Interfaith leaders to participate. Instead, it serves as another policy change to further solidify the discrimination of religious practice. As Christians, we find such discrimination unacceptable and call upon Representative Strohm to remember that Christ’s call was not to love our neighbors as ourselves as long as they look like you, pray like you, or believe like you, but to unequivocally love all without exception. There is no place in the practice of Christianity for such hurtful discrimination.”

CAIR-Oklahoma is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.