An Oklahoma delegate to the Republican National Convention is
incensed that the Tulsa City Council has agreed to allow an atheist
to pray at its meeting today.
The prayer, or "invocation," ends a year-long battle with
council members in the "Bible Belt" city. The Humanist Association
of Tulsa has worked for years to prevent sectarian prayers before
Tulsa City Council meetings, finding little success with the
leaders who remain confident that the practice is
Toni Calvey, Oklahoma resident and Republican delegate
representing The Sooner State in Tampa, has concerns about
what the atheist's prayer represents.
"Personally I think it's a slap in the face to our Christian
heritage … our nation and … our state of Oklahoma," she comments.
"We are a conservative state, and I think that something like this
is meant to be provocative, and it's insulting to me."
Dan Nerren, a former Southern Baptist and retired railroad
employee, is one of the founders of the Humanist Association of
Tulsa. He is scheduled to give the prayer at today's 6:00
p.m. meeting and claims it will encourage council members to
respect "the inherent dignity and worth of each person."
Calvey says decisions like this further erode the nation's
"We don't go to other countries or other places and demand that
they be so accommodating. I don't think that we should feel like we
have to be," she offers.
The Associated Press reports that Bill Dusenberry
of the Northeast Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for
Separation of Church and State says allowing an atheist to offer
the invocation is a good move by the city that shows a "willingness
to accommodate diversity."
The Tulsa City Council has called for extra security for