Kirk Humphreys, a former mayor of Oklahoma City and a regent for the University of Oklahoma, is under fire for remarks he made on Sunday morning on Flash Point, a public affairs TV program on the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City. Humphreys told another panelist, Representative Emily Virgin of Norman, a liberal Democrat, that homosexuality is wrong.
Humphreys later explained, “My moral stance about homosexuality is that it is against the teachings of Scripture. Although, I know that upsets some people, it is my belief. In America, we have the right to believe as we choose and to freely express that belief.”
But apparently there are some who disagree with being able to freely express a Bible-based belief and serve in public office. About 100 protesters showed up at a meeting of the OU Board of Regents on Tuesday, calling for Humphrey’s resignation. One protester summed up their position with a sign which read, “You have a right to your opinion NOT to be my regent.”
Troy Stevenson, director of the LGBTQ group Freedom Oklahoma said, “I think it sends an awful message to incoming students, to LGBTQ faculty and staff, and to the communities around the three universities the board oversees, to have someone who is so flagrantly anti-LGBTQ leading the Board of Regents.” Humphreys is set to become board chairman in the near future.
OU President David Boren, a former governor of Oklahoma and former U.S. senator, said whether Humphreys resigns is “only his decision.” Boren said he disagreed with Humphrey’s comments.
Reduced to its fundamentals, the issue here is whether a Christian who believes the Bible is the authority for his faith and practice can serve in public office. The Bible is very clear in both the Old and New Testaments that homosexual behavior is condemned, along with adultery. Thus, the implication is that a person must choose to disavow the Bible if he or she wishes to serve in public office in Oklahoma.
But Oklahoma’s state constitution has a “no religious test” provision, very similar to the one found in the U.S. Constitution. The Oklahoma constitution reads, “No religious test shall be required for the existence of civil or political rights.” In Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, the wording is, “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
When the 13 states of the United States adopted the Constitution in 1789, there existed a wide variety of Christian denominations, plus assorted deists, atheists, Jews, and the like. The United States had only recently won its independence from the British Empire, and most of the constitutional Framers resented the restrictions on religious liberty imposed by that British government. In fact, at various times in its history, the British government had imposed “religious tests” before someone could legally hold public office in that nation — sometimes by Catholics against Protestants; at other times, Protestants against Catholics.
So that no such law could ever be passed in the United States, the Framers included the “no religious test” provision in the Constitution.
Comments made in June by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vividly illustrate just how fragile the liberties protected by our Constitution really are, and how little respect leftists such as Sanders, and even some others who claim to be “libertarians,” have for private religious opinions. Sanders announced after a Senate hearing in June that he would vote against the confirmation of Russell Vought as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget simply because Vought had written in January 2016 that only persons who believe in Jesus Christ have salvation. “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about. I will vote no,” Sanders said. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson even dismissed religious liberty as a “black hole.”
Private citizens are certainly free to vote against someone for his or her religious beliefs. Many opposed Al Smith in the 1928 presidential contest simply because he was a Catholic; others voted against Mitt Romney in 2012 simply because of his Mormonism. Sanders, however, is not a private citizen, but a U.S. senator, who took an oath to support the Constitution.
But Sanders’ vote, Johnson’s dismissal of religious liberty, and the attacks upon Humphreys in Oklahoma are a strong indication that Christians (and other religions, for that matter) should be prepared to suffer discrimination at the hands of government and their fellow citizens if their religious views are not in line with modern political correctness.