A day after he was re-elected governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt claimed in a public meeting, “Every square inch, we claim it for you in the name of Jesus.” We at the Jewish Federation of Tulsa are saddened that the leader of our state would make such an exclusionary statement. From the earliest days of our nation, people from every part of the world have come to the United States in search of religious liberty. One of our country’s greatest strengths is our diversity. We urge the governor to retract his statement and govern to serve all citizens of Oklahoma regardless of religious affiliation. Read his speech below, as well as the response from our Community Relations Committee (CRC).
Our Response to Governor Stitt’s Claims of Religious Authority
Recently Governor Kevin Stitt stood in front of the Oklahoma Capitol and stated that, “Every square inch, we claim it for you in the name of Jesus.” Furthermore, he remarked, “with the authority that I have as governor and the spiritual authority and the physical authority that you give me I claim Oklahoma for you.”
Statements like these, made by the highest civil officials in the state, claim religious power over others, including the more than 5,500 Jewish people, 40,000 Muslims, and thousands of Native American, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu, Sikh, non-believers, and a multitude of other religious groups. We ask elected officials to equally serve all Oklahomans regardless of their religious beliefs.
During the last legislative session, Governor Stitt signed SB1671, allowing all Oklahoma public schools to teach about the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the greatest tragedy perpetrated on mankind and the passage of this bill was an important step by the Oklahoma legislature and our governor to ensure all our state’s public school children in grades 6 through 12 learn about the destructiveness of antisemitism as well as bullying, bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. In this way, students are made aware of our pluralistic and democratic society.
The Oklahoma 45th infantry division liberated the concentration camp Dachau. Therefore, it is more than fitting that we promote diversity, pluralism, and inclusion that is inherent in the democratic values they fought for. And many from this “greatest generation“ died for these democratic values. Their memory we also have an obligation to honor.
To build bridges of understanding, we appeal to all public servants of Oklahoma to respect the differences between religious and civil authority. This is underscored by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The State of Oklahoma is – and always will be – a religiously diverse community. Maintaining respect for these boundaries is a key tenant of the freedom, liberty, and democracy that all Oklahomans desire.
Jewish Federation of Tulsa and the Community Relations Committee
The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice (OCCJ)
Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry (TMM)
“Father, we just claim Oklahoma for you. Every square inch, we claim it for you in the name of Jesus. Father, we can do nothing apart from you. We don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities and darkness.
And Father, we just come against that, we just lose your will over our state right now in the name of Jesus. We just thank you and we claim Oklahoma for you as the authority that I have as governor and the spiritual authority and the physical authority that you give me.
I claim Oklahoma for you that we will be a light to our country and to the world. We thank you that your will was done on Tuesday and Father, that you will have your way with our state, with our education system, with everything within the walls behind me.
Lord, we pray that you will root out corruption and bring the right people into this building.”