thumbnail of 
     Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies on
    the Right to Read 
  ; No. 4; Religion
Hide -
<v Speaker>This is Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies <v Speaker>on the Right to Read. <v Speaker>This program is sponsored by the Public Library Systems in Oklahoma and supported in part <v Speaker>by a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Committee at the National Endowment for the <v Speaker>Humanities. Views and opinions expressed in this program do not necessarily represent <v Speaker>the views of either the station or the sponsoring agencies. <v Speaker>[Banjo music plays] <v Woman>I'm not a Christian. And because of that, I think that growing up in this <v Woman>country has meant feeling left out of a lot of thing, a lot of the time. <v Woman>When I was younger, it meant that I went to school and said prayers I didn't believe in <v Woman>and it meant that I didn't understand why my friends didn't know anything about my <v Woman>religion, but I knew about theirs. <v Woman>Even now, it means always being a little bit on the defensive
<v Woman>because you never know how someone will react to finding out you're not a Christian. <v Woman>I guess what it means more than anything is always feeling a little bit different. <v Woman>Sometimes it makes you feel hurt. <v Woman>Sometimes it makes you feel angry because you're an American too. <v Woman>But mostly it's just always remembering that little bit of difference. <v Man>The fact that I grew up in a Christian country was never something I really thought very <v Man>much about. There were just two families in town who weren't Christians and we didn't <v Man>see much of them. Nearly all my friends were Christian, just like I was. <v Man>Worrying about whether this was a Christian country or not. <v Man>Never seemed very important. <v Man>If I thought about it at all, I guess I just assumed since most of the people around were <v Man>Christian, then this was a Christian country.
<v Narrator>If you're listening to this program, you probably feel pretty much like that young man <v Narrator>who just spoke. Chances are you're one of the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans <v Narrator>who are Christians. <v Narrator>When President Ford asked you to do your duty as part of a Christian nation, that sounds <v Narrator>perfectly reasonable. It might not sound so reasonable to the young lady who spoke first, <v Narrator>even though she has grown up in a country of Christians, she might not want to consider <v Narrator>this a Christian country. <v Narrator>She might want to hear more about her religion in the schools, if she hears about any <v Narrator>religion at all. And she might feel hurt that many of her friends don't know much about <v Narrator>her religion, whatever it is, because they have no place to go for information about her <v Narrator>religion or any other minority religion. <v Narrator>According to the latest Supreme Court decisions, she has the United States Constitution <v Narrator>on her side. The Constitution says this must be a country with no established <v Narrator>religion and it doesn't even mention God once. <v Narrator>This program will be taking a look at how Oklahomans view religion and its place in our <v Narrator>public lives. We'll be asking what it is like to belong to a religious minority
<v Narrator>in Oklahoma and whether the majority has any right to decide on questions involving <v Narrator>religious beliefs. And even if the answer to that question is no, <v Narrator>does the Protestant majority in this country have any responsibility to provide <v Narrator>information about other religions besides its own? <v Narrator>These issues have plagued our country for nearly 200 years and the controversy over them <v Narrator>continues even as we discuss the subject. <v Narrator>Here in Oklahoma, two sides of the question are spotlighted by Oklahoma State University <v Narrator>Professor Richard Eckerman and Oklahoma City Southern Baptist Minister Jerry McDonald. <v Richard Eckerman>The law should strictly keep its hands off <v Richard Eckerman>all religious issues. <v Richard Eckerman>The law should not be used either to give favor to <v Richard Eckerman>or to give disfavor to any particular religious <v Richard Eckerman>position simply because it's a religious position. <v Jerry McDonald>God is the one who started human government himself. <v Jerry McDonald>I certainly believe in human government, human beings governing over one another.
<v Jerry McDonald>I think that's- that's right. I think that's biblical. <v Jerry McDonald>But I think that we've just relaxed our standards as a nation. <v Jerry McDonald>America started out a Christian nation, started out in prayer on her knees, religion. <v Jerry McDonald>We've gone a long ways from that. We've gone to man's ideas rather than God's ideas. <v Speaker>[Yankee Doodle melody plays] <v Narrator>Let's go back to the beginning when portions of this country were founded because small <v Narrator>groups of English Puritans wanted religious freedom. <v Narrator>Freedom to worship as they saw fit, but only as they saw fit. <v Narrator>Religious tolerance played no part in the Puritan scheme of things. <v Narrator>There was only one way to salvation, said the Puritans. <v Narrator>America was to show the world that way. <v Narrator>They call their government a theocracy. <v Narrator>And it was to be a perfect blending of church and state. <v Narrator>God, through his ministers, would run the government. <v Narrator>That's a pretty foreign idea to most of us today. <v Narrator>It's foreign. Because the man who wrote our Constitution didn't buy the idea of a
<v Narrator>theocracy. Most of our founding fathers had grown up in communities where there was an <v Narrator>established religion and they knew what it was like. <v Narrator>As a result, those same men insisted that the First Amendment to the Constitution read, <v Narrator>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. <v Narrator>Tulsa educator Dr. Geraldine Rosenthal says our founding fathers believed that <v Narrator>establishing freedom of religion was the only way to unite the citizens of the 13 <v Narrator>original colonies into a single democracy. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>In that colonial period, people came here of dozens of different religious backgrounds <v Geraldine Rosenthal>and the colonial governments had tried every way they could think of to handle the <v Geraldine Rosenthal>problem of how people of many different religions could get along when the government <v Geraldine Rosenthal>chose one religion as the religion of the state. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>And so they found that the politics of the time were spending a great deal of its effort <v Geraldine Rosenthal>and its energy and religious questions. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>And so the founding fathers decided that religion should be a personal decision <v Geraldine Rosenthal>and that government should concern itself with political and economic matters.
<v Geraldine Rosenthal>Some of the founding fathers were afraid the church would tell the government what to do. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>Other founding fathers were afraid the government would tell the church what to do. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>The First Amendment is first because it's the most important and it confers <v Geraldine Rosenthal>all the others. If you're going to have real freedom of religion, you need freedom of <v Geraldine Rosenthal>speech, freedom to print hymnals, freedom to assemble, to practice your religion. <v Narrator>That's where it all started. Back in 1788, when our founding fathers decided the brand <v Narrator>new United States of America would be the modern world's first democracy and the first <v Narrator>country with no state religion. <v Narrator>As an extra precaution, they prohibited any government interference with the exercise of <v Narrator>anyone's private religion. <v Speaker>[Country tune] <v Narrator>Oklahoma had a religious beginning too. <v Narrator>Even before the boomers came the missionaries. <v Narrator>By the time Oklahoma became a state, the churches were as important to Oklahomans as the
<v Narrator>yearly wheat harvest. And almost as plentiful. <v Narrator>Oklahoma City University Professor Duane Cummins says Oklahoma provided more fertile <v Narrator>ground for religion than almost any other state. <v Duane Cummins>The history of Oklahoma presents a unique case. <v Duane Cummins>On earlier frontiers, the missionary most often worked alone <v Duane Cummins>and without the support of an organization. <v Duane Cummins>For decades, Oklahoma had been viewed as something of a foreign mission field <v Duane Cummins>and by the time of the land runs, most denominations had formed active missionary <v Duane Cummins>societies, which gave financial aid to the representatives who were working in the field. <v Duane Cummins>One result was that churches often arrived in Oklahoma before the people. <v Duane Cummins>Ministers occasionally participated in the land runs, staking out town site claims <v Duane Cummins>for the construction of their church buildings well before the people settled or <v Duane Cummins>before the town itself was incorporated. <v Duane Cummins>This represents a significant reversal of the trend that you find on previous frontiers. <v Duane Cummins>The consequence was the early appearance of churches deeply involved
<v Duane Cummins>in the development of community affairs and the lives of the people. <v Duane Cummins>The church, along with the Masonic Lodge, where two of the most significant institutions <v Duane Cummins>in forming community values during the early years of the state's history. <v Narrator>Freedom of religion wasn't much trouble for those early Oklahomans. <v Narrator>They were too busy building a state. <v Narrator>Besides, it was hard to find a non-Bible Christian in those days, as it was to imagine <v Narrator>high rise buildings dotting the plains down south of Guthrie. <v Narrator>The Rosicrucians caused a little stir during the 20s, and the Klan wasn't always fond <v Narrator>of Jews and Catholics. But for the most part, Oklahoma was peacefully fundamentalist and <v Narrator>that was that. Then, after a decade of legal wrangling, came <v Narrator>1964. <v Folk Singer>"What did you learn in school, dear little boy of mine? <v Folk Singer>What did you learn in school today, dear little boy <v Folk Singer>of mine? <v Folk Singer>I learned the Bible and the Golden Rule come from God who rules the <v Folk Singer>world. I learned that Jesus showed the way and those doubt will have to pay.
<v Folk Singer>That's what I learned in school today, school today, <v Folk Singer>school today. <v Folk Singer>That's what I learned in school today. <v Folk Singer>That's what I learned in school." <v Narrator>That was the problem. Oklahoma children, like children all over the country, were going <v Narrator>to school and learning prayers. <v Narrator>Protestant Christian prayers. <v Narrator>And they were reading from the Bible. The Protestant Bible. <v Narrator>All the children were, even those who weren't Protestants. <v Narrator>1964 was the year the United States Supreme Court said this had to stop, <v Narrator>that mandated prayers of any religion could no longer be prescribed for American <v Narrator>schoolchildren. That was eleven years ago. <v Narrator>And the battle over this landmark decision has not yet ended. <v Narrator>Oklahoma's own senator, Dewey Bartlett, is introducing a constitutional amendment to <v Narrator>permit mandated prayer in the schools once again. <v Dewey Bartlett>Yes, we've had hearings on a <v Dewey Bartlett>constitutional amendment to provide voluntary prayer in the schools. <v Dewey Bartlett>I support this strongly and we'll introduce it as an amendment if
<v Dewey Bartlett>I possibly can. <v Dewey Bartlett>As far as safeguards for this - it is voluntary, <v Dewey Bartlett>which is certainly a safeguard. <v Dewey Bartlett>And then I think everybody realizes you can't force a person to pray. <v Dewey Bartlett>It's impossible. But what is happening is <v Dewey Bartlett>that the minority, those who do not want to pray, <v Dewey Bartlett>are getting their way for the majority. <v Dewey Bartlett>And I think it's very important that those who want to pray <v Dewey Bartlett>may have the opportunity to do it on a voluntary basis, whether they be in the minority <v Dewey Bartlett>or the majority. I feel that prayer is a way <v Dewey Bartlett>of binding people together, of sorting out values <v Dewey Bartlett>good from bad, and of having a <v Dewey Bartlett>joint commitment in a good moral direction. <v Dewey Bartlett>I see it as one of the big problems of today, a breakdown
<v Dewey Bartlett>in our morality. <v Dewey Bartlett>I think having the right to pray and encouraging people <v Dewey Bartlett>to pray through voluntary prayer in school is a good thing. <v Narrator>Senator Bartlett believes that the problems cited by the Supreme Court in their 1964 <v Narrator>decision could be solved by making prayer voluntary. <v Narrator>So anyone who does not wish to participate can leave the room while prayers are being <v Narrator>said. But the senators claim that prayer in schools can ever be voluntary is <v Narrator>disputed by Tulsa University religion professor Harold Hill. <v Harold Hill>Monkey business, as I think of it, the saying we will not have prayer before classes is <v Harold Hill>simply about respecting the rights of those who don't happen to care to join the public <v Harold Hill>prayer. I personally feel that any kind of an act which demands <v Harold Hill>a person that he participate an expression of <v Harold Hill>his beliefs when he does not cannot express his beliefs <v Harold Hill>is an act of violation of his basic rights. <v Harold Hill>And don't tell me that, well, when you ask the kids one after another, they won't consent
<v Harold Hill>to do it. Well, consent to do it under peer pressure or under fear of <v Harold Hill>disfavor from their parents or from teachers or whatever. <v Harold Hill>The way to protect the basic rights is in part at least to see to it that no attempt <v Harold Hill>was made to threaten them. On the other hand, of course, it is important that people <v Harold Hill>stand up for their own rights. We can't expect other people to protect us altogether. <v Harold Hill>So I'm very much opposed to only prayer <v Harold Hill>in the formal sense - that is, written prayer, formal recitation of prayers. <v Harold Hill>Even silent prayers, people can pray. <v Harold Hill>You can't keep it out of the schools. They just do it inside themselves. <v Harold Hill>That's how prayer is always done anyway. <v Narrator>Meanwhile, the controversy continues over the question of whether prayer belongs in <v Narrator>school in the first place. Oklahoma City parent activist Mrs. Earl Naylor says it does. <v Mrs. Naylor>I don't believe religion never hurt anybody. <v Mrs. Naylor>I don't think there's anything wrong in praying in school. <v Mrs. Naylor>I think that any child doesn't want to participate should not have to.
<v Mrs. Naylor>Just like I would not want my child to have to participate in a sex education class <v Mrs. Naylor>or a sensitivity training seminar. <v Mrs. Naylor>I don't think anyone was being forced to before the Supreme Court decision. <v Mrs. Naylor>And I think since that religion has been thrown out of school, <v Mrs. Naylor>we have the drug problem. <v Mrs. Naylor>We have more teenagers becoming alcoholics. <v Mrs. Naylor>We have discipline problems in school. We have physical violence in school. <v Mrs. Naylor>Children are not safe in school physically. <v Mrs. Naylor>Teachers are not safe in school physically. <v Mrs. Naylor>This is more so in the cities than in Oklahoma City. <v Mrs. Naylor>But from everything I've read in the paper, this is true in Oklahoma City. <v Mrs. Naylor>And there's just no doubt that things are bad in the- in the schools <v Mrs. Naylor>and children are, God help them all, they're <v Mrs. Naylor>iving in a terrible time of the low morals and the things that <v Mrs. Naylor>they're exposed to that they were not fifteen or twenty years ago. <v Mrs. Naylor>And- and a lot of this has come of that since they kicked God out of school.
<v Narrator>Dr. Geraldine Rosenthal, on the other hand, says giving teachers the right to decide on <v Narrator>what prayers would be said was unfair, and the experience was damaging to students <v Narrator>of minority religions. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>The 1964 Supreme Court decision on religion in the schools was a very necessary <v Geraldine Rosenthal>decision because the schools of the country were trying to convert children, which <v Geraldine Rosenthal>usually meant to the religion of the teacher. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>It was telling them that if they did not accept in practice the religious behavior <v Geraldine Rosenthal>of the majority of the people in their particular community, they were no good as people. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>And it was requiring them to participate in religious activities which were contrary <v Geraldine Rosenthal>to their own religious faiths. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>So the Supreme Court decision said that public schools, which are supported <v Geraldine Rosenthal>by taxes and which require children by law to attend, had <v Geraldine Rosenthal>no right to interfere in the religious attitudes given the children by their homes. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>The court decision didn't end prayer. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>I pray in school every day, but I do it quietly to myself. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>I don't call attention to myself. I don't say, everybody look at me, I'm praying.
<v Geraldine Rosenthal>Because that, after all, is an attempt to convert people to your way <v Geraldine Rosenthal>of doing things religiously. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>The Supreme Court in this decision did a very unusual thing because they <v Geraldine Rosenthal>knew how important religion is in culture, in our entire lives. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>They specifically said how religion could be incorporated into the <v Geraldine Rosenthal>schools. And it's very simple and very easy. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>They said you may teach about religion, its role, its history, <v Geraldine Rosenthal>its function, its importance in the life of people. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>But you may not teach to believe in any one religion, <v Geraldine Rosenthal>nor to practice any one religion. <v Geraldine Rosenthal>When the schools operate this way, they do the job of the school, which <v Geraldine Rosenthal>is to educate and they leave to the home, to the parents, <v Geraldine Rosenthal>who have the God given right to decide their children's religious education, what <v Geraldine Rosenthal>that religious education will be. <v Narrator>It has been eleven years since that far reaching Supreme Court decision, and the ground
<v Narrator>between these various positions has scarcely narrowed. <v Narrator>Senator Bartlett says he is pleased to visit schools in Oklahoma, where prayers are still <v Narrator>being said. Probably in violation of that ruling. <v Narrator>Others say the whole issue of prayer in the schools is dead or dying because people no <v Narrator>longer care about the subject. <v Speaker>[Folk music plays] <v Man>That's why nothing- literally <v Man>nothing- about Judaism or Jews until I was in college and made some <v Man>Jewish friends. And initially I had a very bad impression <v Man>and I didn't know particularly where they'd been garnered, perhaps from my own early <v Man>Christian upbringing. There, I guess you- you'd say the lack of information fostered an <v Man>impression, which I man- manufactured out of almost nothing. <v Narrator>Dr. Rosendahl says that schools can teach about religion in a classroom setting like <v Narrator>any other subject. Schools aren't doing it, though. <v Narrator>Perhaps they're afraid of the whole topic. Perhaps they don't know how to teach about
<v Narrator>religion. Perhaps they don't want to accept a Supreme Court ruling. <v Narrator>Whatever the reason, Professor Harold Hill is seeing the results. <v Harold Hill>They don't- they can't spell the name of their own denomination. <v Harold Hill>They never even heard of the other religions. <v Harold Hill>And if they have heard about the other religion, it'll be about <v Harold Hill>zen, let's say. <v Harold Hill>But zen, to them, means incense filled rooms and the <v Harold Hill>Lotus posture, had a loft somewhere in San Francisco. <v Harold Hill>Or maybe Alan Watts with a god's eye around his neck. <v Harold Hill>They really don't know anything about it. <v Harold Hill>Discovered and they misunderstand what it's about. <v Harold Hill>The second place- no to get it mixed up with things like transcendental meditation and <v Harold Hill>yoga down at the YMCA or something of the sort. <v Harold Hill>And it's, uh, they don't know very much, unfortunately, about these other religions. <v Harold Hill>Not to mention the ones in their own country, such as a Jew knowing about <v Harold Hill>the Christian, the Christian about the Jew. <v Narrator>This is obviously a disturbing trend to many Oklahomans. <v Narrator>Oklahoma City Baptist Minister Gene Garrison says he wants to see people learning about
<v Narrator>religions other than their own. <v Gene Garrison>I think it is important for us to know enough about other <v Gene Garrison>religions that we can relate to people who have those <v Gene Garrison>religious beliefs, not in a shallow way, but in a meaningful <v Gene Garrison>way. We can really care for them and enter into relationships <v Gene Garrison>with them without those religions being a barrier. <v Gene Garrison>It's very unfortunate that religions create the barriers between <v Gene Garrison>human beings that they do when religion is intended - regardless of what it is, <v Gene Garrison>Buddhism, Shintoism, Christianity, Judaism- it's intended to unite, <v Gene Garrison>and it builds barriers. If understanding other religions would help eliminate <v Gene Garrison>the barriers. You bet. I think we ought to understand all we can about other religions. <v Narrator>On the other hand, Southern Baptist Minister Jerry McDonald says he sees no need for <v Narrator>education about other religions. <v Narrator>In fact, he would prefer that it not be offered. <v Jerry McDonald>I don't think it's very important. I really don't.
<v Jerry McDonald>I don't think it's very important for him to know about other religions. <v Jerry McDonald>I think Christianity has been the most important thing in our nation. <v Jerry McDonald>I think it's something I believe very strongly in, I believe very strongly <v Jerry McDonald>in Christ. And I just think they're going to be exposed to enough of <v Jerry McDonald>other opinions of things anyway. As far as I'm concerned, I don't think they need to know <v Jerry McDonald>all about the others. <v Narrator>The philosophical differences between these two Oklahoma City ministers is a very <v Narrator>important one related to the topic of this program. <v Narrator>Some religions believe that information about other religions is undesirable. <v Narrator>Others believe that knowing about other religions strengthens one's commitment to one's <v Narrator>own religion. The difference between these positions is a matter of belief. <v Narrator>But what is important and what must be decided is whether information about all religions <v Narrator>is necessary in a democratic society made up of a large number of religious groups. <v Narrator>Would people get along better, understand each other more fully if they knew more about <v Narrator>each other's beliefs? If we believe this, then do we have a responsibility in the <v Narrator>interest of a better democracy to provide as much information as possible about various
<v Narrator>religions? Or is it possible that learning about other religions would just accentuate <v Narrator>the differences among people? <v Narrator>Or as Reverend McDonald fears, would this information weaken our beliefs in our own <v Narrator>religion if it comes at the wrong time or the wrong place. <v Narrator>The answer to these questions is not easy. <v Narrator>But it is important as we rededicate ourselves on our nation's 200th anniversary. <v Speaker>[Upbeat folk music] <v Narrator>Up to now, we've been talking and pretty cold theoretical terms, but there are still <v Narrator>Oklahomans for whom the battle for religious freedom is a day to day, hour to hour <v Narrator>struggle. Until very recently, black Muslims in Oklahoma were not even allowed to <v Narrator>practice their own religion in the state prisons. <v Narrator>Christian ministers of the various sects were permitted, indeed encouraged, to visit <v Narrator>their parishioners inside Oklahoma's jails. <v Narrator>Black Muslims had to go to court to force the prisons to allow religious services and <v Narrator>materials inside the walls. <v Narrator>This is just one example. Other black Muslims have complained repeatedly of harassment
<v Narrator>from Oklahoma authorities. <v Narrator>The new minister of the Temple of Islam in Oklahoma City, Ibrahim Abdullah, says the <v Narrator>situation is improving, but he is still concerned about the problem of black Oklahomans <v Narrator>getting free access to information about his religion. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>The honorable Warith Deen Mohammed, the leader of the Nation of Islam, <v Ibrahim Abdullah>is speaking primarily to our people today. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>But he's also teaching the entire world that religion <v Ibrahim Abdullah>means alive, that religion is something that God <v Ibrahim Abdullah>intended to give life to the people of the world. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>Under the current rule of Christian, the Judeo <v Ibrahim Abdullah>Christian Society, religion is something that concerns itself <v Ibrahim Abdullah>primarily with death. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>So we find that the people of the world are concerning themselves more with deaths <v Ibrahim Abdullah>than actually deriving full benefits from the lives that they're living. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>And freedom in regards to this is a monopoly of-
<v Ibrahim Abdullah>Christianity, is a monopoly on Christianity by the Western world. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>And they have exploited it throughout the world- the rest of the world, throughout <v Ibrahim Abdullah>Africa, Asia, Latin America. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>And as a result, the people who are worshiping in these religions are <v Ibrahim Abdullah>not experiencing the fullness of life that they could, if they understood what <v Ibrahim Abdullah>God is actually dictating to the people today. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>So now that Warith Deen Mohammed is teaching us that religion is alive and that <v Ibrahim Abdullah>especially for our people here in America, our religion has not been a <v Ibrahim Abdullah>beneficial thing. it has been an anathema. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>It has been a thing that has caused us to actually suffer mental death. <v Ibrahim Abdullah>So we have freedom today to accept Islam as taught by Warith Deen Mohammed, <v Ibrahim Abdullah>which would give us freedom, justice and equality and a full <v Ibrahim Abdullah>life instead of one of ignorance and darkness. <v Narrator>Other religious groups complain of the effects of prejudice in Oklahoma. <v Narrator>Jehovah's Witnesses have thought court battles in other states for the right not to <v Narrator>salute the flag or fight in the army.
<v Narrator>Jews are not permitted to join a number of private clubs in the state. <v Narrator>Catholics complain that they are sometimes treated with suspicion and hostility by the <v Narrator>Protestant majority. And finally, atheists must be considered a religious minority <v Narrator>in Oklahoma. After all, as Supreme Court Justice Jackson put it the day <v Narrator>that this country ceases to be free for irreligion. <v Narrator>It will cease to be free for religion, except for the sect that can win political power. <v Narrator>But Donna Meyer, a past president of the Women of the Church of St. Andrew's Presbyterian <v Narrator>in Oklahoma City, says Oklahomans are not really free to have no religion. <v Donna Meyer>We don't really have a choice, whether to be Christian or not. <v Donna Meyer>We just assume that this is a Christian nation and therefore, we don't really have <v Donna Meyer>a choice to decide whether we choose to be a Christian or not. <v Donna Meyer>I think that anybody who might have the leanings towards atheism <v Donna Meyer>would not admit it because they would be persecuted by people. <v Donna Meyer>They would immediately think that that person is morally bankrupt, <v Donna Meyer>which is not the case at all. But this seems to be the propaganda that has been put out
<v Donna Meyer>that a person has no morals and he is an atheist and therefore <v Donna Meyer>you should be aware of him because he's a very dangerous person. <v Donna Meyer>Now, whenever the constitution was written, it said that we will be <v Donna Meyer>a country that we could have freedom of religion, and <v Donna Meyer>to me it means we're just free to have no religion at all. <v Donna Meyer>Now, it doesn't mean that we end up without morals or anything like that, <v Donna Meyer>but it does mean that we don't have to be pushed into going <v Donna Meyer>to church if we don't feel like that's really what we want to <v Donna Meyer>do. <v Narrator>Just these few examples should serve to illustrate the point that even in 1975 in <v Narrator>Oklahoma, everyone is not being afforded their constitutional right to religious freedom. <v Speaker>[Upbeat folk music plays] <v Narrator>We've looked at some of the issues involved in religious freedom and access to religious <v Narrator>information in Oklahoma. We have discovered that not all Oklahomans agree on the
<v Narrator>importance or desirability of open access to that information. <v Narrator>And we have found that not all Oklahomans feel that they are actually being allowed their <v Narrator>constitutional right to religious freedom. <v Narrator>But the final issue, the one that Oklahomans must now decide, is whether we <v Narrator>believe our society will benefit from having all its members know about all its different <v Narrator>religions. And if so, do we have a responsibility to make sure this <v Narrator>information is truly available to everyone? <v Narrator>The First Amendment to the Constitution does not really answer these questions for us. <v Narrator>It only provides protection for this country's minorities to be able to believe and <v Narrator>practice any religion they wish. <v Narrator>But is this negative protection really enough or might it be in the best interests of <v Narrator>democracy to take positive action to provide information about all religions, not just <v Narrator>our own? These are not easy questions and there is no one <v Narrator>answer. But 200 years after this nation was founded on the principle of religious <v Narrator>freedom, it is certainly time to reexamine what that principle actually means. <v Speaker>[Upbeat folk music plays]
Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies on the Right to Read
Episode Number
No. 4
Producing Organization
Oklahoma. Department of Libraries
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-526-qz22b8wn9t).
Episode Description
In this episode, the host interviews various Oklahoman academics and community members on the question of the full meaning and implications of the American right to religious freedom, especially as it relates to issues like school prayer, rights for religious minorities, and the appropriateness of educating Americans about religions other than Christianity. The interviewees present arguments on all sides of this issue.
Series Description
"The LIMITS TO FREEDOM' radio series explores Oklahoma's 'community standards' on the right to read. The four tapes explore the questions of what limits, if any, Oklahomans believe should be placed on access to materials about sex, politics, religion and minors/minorities. "Each tape uses music, dramatized episodes and extensive interviews with a number of different citizens to demonstrate the many different attitudes Oklahomans have on each of these issues and to explore the value systems underlying these attitudes. Each interview is balanced by another with a person whose basic perspective is different. Both interviews and narration define issues, present historical and constitutional contexts, and focus on Oklahoma community standards. "Each full track tape is 29.25 long and has been played at least 24 times on 20 different Oklahoma radio stations."--1975 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Asset type
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producer: Rosenthal, Deborah
Producing Organization: Oklahoma. Department of Libraries
Writer: Rosenthal, Deborah
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-38e3e2dacb8 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “ Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies on the Right to Read ; No. 4; Religion,” 1975, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “ Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies on the Right to Read ; No. 4; Religion.” 1975. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Limits to Freedom: Oklahoma's Private Values and Public Policies on the Right to Read ; No. 4; Religion. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from