Legislative prayers spark controversy, changes in Oklahoma

Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 07:21:33-05

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma's House speaker says he plans changes to a program in which pastors deliver prayers and sermons to legislators amid criticism from interfaith leaders that non-Christians are being denied an opportunity to participate.

House Speaker Charles McCall said Wednesday the plan is to align the program with those of the U.S. House, which has a chaplain who delivers a daily prayer.

Interfaith leaders are particularly upset at a decision by Rep. Chuck Strohm to deny a local Muslim imam an opportunity to serve as minister in the House. Strohm then changed the rules of the program to only allow ministers from legislators' churches.

Strohm didn't return messages Wednesday.

The flap over Oklahoma's chaplain programs reignited last week after separate ministers delivered fiery sermons on the House and Senate floors.

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