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Point: Legislate morality



The church-state separation fetishists are at it again. Now the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State are decrying efforts by the Oklahoma Legislature to teach creationism in public schools, create vouchers or other mechanisms for school choice and define the beginning of human life.

The creationism debate will not go away. In the interest of full disclosure, I straddle this issue since I firmly believe in creation, but am somewhat convinced that it happened uncounted years ago and the current complexity of life arrived through aeons of evolution.

However, I am a mere attorney, neither a scientist nor a theologian. On the other hand, and this is a very big qualification, I am a citizen. The idea of a republic has always embraced debate, and I see no reason why Oklahoma’s children should not be told both (really more than two) sides of the issue. Science is about inquiry and discovery — let’s encourage it. Uncomfortable with that solution, well then school choice is for you!

Expanding school choice for all Oklahomans deserves to be the crown jewel of the new Republican governing majority. School choice already exists for those wealthy enough to pay for private school or move to a desirable location. My wife and I eagerly take advantage of the quality education at our Catholic parish for our children and could not be happier with it.

Prudence will dictate some matters of morality are not legislated.

Unfortunately, many Oklahomans are unable to send their children to the school of their choice. Expanding their choices is a social justice imperative. From threats of violence, to mediocre outcomes, to the undermining of religious faith, there are many reasons a parent may wish to withdraw from the public system. For the sake of our state, I wish Superintendent Barresi well in her fights with the dinosaurs of the Board of Education, but I still would prefer to keep the money that I pay to the Oklahoma City public school system and apply it to my children’s tuition. School choice includes the public system as well; witness the success of charter schools.

The last, and truly most important issue, is the protection of human life. This issue betrays the bad faith on the part of the separationists. They stand tall for “science” against the religious, but ignore the clear science that shows life starts at conception. They stand strong for “choice” when it is the choice to dispose of a life that may inconvenience one of the people who made it, but not for a loving parent to choose a good school.

Next, we will have to sit through the old canard that you cannot “legislate morality,” but that is nonsense. If a Legislature did nothing more than set speed limits and build infrastructure, then many would not care if an appointed bureaucracy took care of it. It is because the state deals with matters of such import that representative democracy has its appeal. Passions get aroused from issues ranging from life to marriage, to the environment and crime because of the moral element.

So yes, I do want to legislate morality. It is immoral to kill innocent life; let’s legislate against that. Prudence will dictate some matters of morality are not legislated; justice demands that this one is.

Reese, a recent Republican candidate for labor commissioner, is an attorney in downtown Oklahoma City.

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