First Amendment Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 2001
The Newsletter of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United
How Wide is the Wall Separating Church & State
When members of The Interfaith Alliance complained to Brad Yarbrough that materials from his office gave the appearance that the State of Oklahoma was promoting an evangelical form of Christianity by officially endorsing the Cornerstone Assistance Network, he insisted that nothing had been printed without his approval and that the separation between the State of Oklahoma and Cornerstone Assistance Network was clear to him. Is it clear to you?
We measured the separation on Brad’s business cards.
In Tulsa it’s less than 3/16 of an inch.
In OK City it’s 1/4 inch.
Tulsa’s Cornerstone Assistance Network distributes a brochure promoting their organization and describing the role it will play as the “Intermediary Organization” for the Oklahoma Office of Faith Based Liaison. A cross is prominent on the cover of the brochure along with this mission statement: “Connecting and equipping Tulsa’s churches to share the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed by reaching out to serve and bring light to our neighboring families and children in need.” Inside the brochure references to Tulsa’s Department of Human Services (DHS) are prominent along with bold headings that say, “Agencies Seek Church Help,” and “Uniting Churches to Serve” and text that says the Cornerstone Network will help “churches” by “Uniting the church for prayer and planning.” Within the brochure are eight major areas of ministry that Cornerstone Assistance Network will be providing with taxpayer assistance. One area is a “Ministry database” that Cornerstone is under contract to provide for the state of Oklahoma that will “identify and obtain information on local Christ-centered ministries” another area is a family mentoring program from New Focus National in which the Christian religion is clearly pervasive (See picture above).
When services are paid for by the adherents of the religion being promulgated, there is nothing wrong with “pervasively religious” social services such as Cornerstone Assistance Network.
The “no establishment clause” of the First Amendment is clearly violated when tax dollars, collected from people who are of different faiths and of no faith, are used to fund such ministries.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
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