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Response from the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry about the Separation of Church and State here in the state of Oklahoma.

We all come from traditions in which prayer features heavily as a way to connect to God, as well as our own capacity for gratitude, the necessity for care and help, and our interconnectedness. Our faith lives are enriched by this practice, be it personal or communal, and all of our traditions speak of living our lives as if each moment were a prayer.

We believe in prayer.

And, we are also citizens of this democratic republic, which has worked over centuries to forge “one out of many” and to live up to the high ideals set in our founding documents. The founders understood that this lofty aspiration of democracy would require deference and mutuality, nowhere more so than when they established freedom of religious expression. The languages of faith are particular and individual. They envision God in different ways, with different powers, and different prerogatives. We should not impose these visions on one another or strip them clean of their individual character. That would result in a bland porridge of consensus, without the power to move our hearts. We want to live in a lively democracy where we hear our neighbors speak the truth of their hearts in our beautiful diversity.

All of this means that we should be vigilant in protecting the neutrality of the public sphere. For hundreds of years, American religious institutions have understood that intermingling personal faith and public institutions would bring unwanted compromise to both. Maintaining a boundary of separation between church and state is absolutely crucial to a free society.  We need no other evidence than to look across the globe where the opposite has been orchestrated and freedom has been compromised.  First and foremost, this begins in our public schools.

Our public schools represent diverse communities of people who should not be required to honor symbols of a particular faith tradition. We have to tell the history of this country in all its complexity, including the role of dissenters and skeptics. And we have to be careful about setting up opportunities for coercion by insistently respecting those boundaries.

We, the undersigned clergy of Tulsa, call upon our fellow Tulsans, and our fellow Oklahomans, to proceed with respect for each other’s faith traditions, to honor the principles that have kept us free, and to hold our rights alongside our responsibilities. The strength of E Pluribus Unum, from many one, is in honoring and protecting the many, so that our “one” doesn’t come from forced uniformity, but chosen unity. There is no better way to honor the dreams of our founders and to sustain the culture of individual freedom.

Rev. Ray A. Owens, Ph.D.

Metropolitan Baptist Church

Senior Pastor

Rev. B. Gordon Edwards

General Presbyter

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Sean Jarrett

Senior Pastor

New Jerusalem Baptist Church

Rev. David Wiggs

Senior Pastor

Boston Avenue UMC

Marc Boone Fitzerman


Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel
Trinity Presbyterian Church

Rev. Kathy Brown

Lead Pastor

St. Paul’s United Methodist

Dan Kaiman


Fr. Dewayne Messenger


All Saints/Todos los Santos Catholic Church

Rabbi Michael Weinstein

Temple Israel


Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar

Senior Minister
All Souls Unitarian Church

Rev. Chris Moore

Lead Pastor

Fellowship Congregational UCC

Aliye Shimi

Executive Director

Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry

Rev. Bill Hemm

Forest Park Christian Church

Rev. Betsy Stewart-Dooley

Boston Ave UMC

Rev. Dr. Eric J. Gill

Executive Pastor

Antioch Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Andrea Clark Chambers

Senior Pastor

Restoration Community Church

Rev. Olivia Lane

Senior Pastor

Southminster Presbyterian Church

Rev. Kelli Driscoll Crews

Disciples of Christ Clergy

Rev. Twila Gibbens
St. Paul’s United Methodist

Rev. Todd Freeman

College Hill Presbyterian Church

Rev. Emily L. Robnett

Associate Pastor

St. Paul’s United Methodist

Brother Ray Knapp, ofr


All Saints/Todos los Santos Catholic Church

Rev. Randy Lewis
Assistant Minister

All Souls Unitarian Church

Rev. Tamara Lebak

Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma

Rev. Heather Scherer

Senior Pastor

Faith UMC

Rev. Dr. Rodney A. Goss

Senior Pastor

Morning Star Baptist Church

Bonnie Lebak

Senior Pastor

House Church Tulsa

Evan Taylor, MASJ

Social Justice Freelance Minister

Rev. Andy Campbell

Senior Minister

Yale Avenue Christian Church

Rev. Kara Y. Farrow

Rev. Cathey Edwards

Retired Unitarian Universalist Minister

1 Comment

  1. James on July 31, 2023 at 7:01 am

    Jesus never said to be a part time believer, and separation of church and state is ONLY applicable to CONGRESS as clearly stated in the First Amendment.

    None of the people who signed this declaration can claim to be Christian, for you have exposed yourselves as children of Satan.
    REPENT or your destiny is the pit of fire.

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