First Amendment Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 2001
The Newsletter of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United
Oklahoma's Faith-based Liaison Getting Bad Advice
By Dr. Bruce Prescott
At the Faithlinks conferences Brad Yarbrough introduced his former pastor, Jim Hylton, as Chairman of an Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma Office of Faith Based Liaison. Jim Hylton is retired pastor of what was formerly known as Metro Church in Edmond. Before merging with another congregation and changing its name, Metro Church was under investigation by the IRS for engaging in political activities that put its tax-exempt status in jeopardy. The church is reported to have printed endorsements of candidates for an Edmond City Council election in a worship bulletin. It also reportedly distributed Christian Coalition voter guides at worship services prior to the last two presidential elections.
Hopes for a balance of perspectives on the Advisory Committee were dashed when Yarbrough announced that Tulsa minister Carlton Pearson would serve as Vice Chair of the Committee. While introducing a speaker at the Tulsa Faithlinks conference, Pearson openly announced the intention and effect of the government’s faith based initiatives. He said, “We are going to remove the mythical separation of church and state.”
Yarbrough’s selection of leaders for his Advisory Committee speaks volumes about the direction that can be expected from his office. He clearly is no friend of church/state separation and his actions to-date demonstrate extreme insensitivity to citizens of minority faiths.
In their hands, “Compassionate conservativism” looks more like an initiative to end pluralism and establish a State church than like a plan for aiding the poor.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
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