On “Hoodie Sunday,” Tulsa Ministers Took a Stand for Free Speech and Against Racism January 19, 2015

On “Hoodie Sunday,” Tulsa Ministers Took a Stand for Free Speech and Against Racism

Several church leaders (and many congregants) in Tulsa, Oklahoma showed up to church yesterday sporting hoodies, all as part of a statement that would make even atheists smile.

It was in response to Oklahoma Senate Bill 13 — a bill proposed by Republican State Senator Don Barrington that would impose a fine of up to $500 for wearing a hoodie in public. More broadly, the bill would make it a crime for anyone to “intentionally conceal his or her identity in a public place.”

Noting that there are free-speech implications as well as racial undertones to the bill, several Tulsa churches joined in a concerted protest against this proposal. “Hoodie Sunday,” as it was dubbed, took place on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Local churches argue the wording of the bill is too vague and would unfairly target minorities, particularly those involved with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

“(Hoodies) have become part of a movement that is trying to organize and address societal issues around racism,” said Rev. Bob Lawrence, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Tulsa. “The fact that people [who] might wear a disguise, such as a hoodie, [would be] prohibited from protesting means that that whole movement would be shut down if this becomes law.”

Why are the churches taking a stance on this issue?

… [The ministers] say their protests will help make the world a better, more just place.

Which, really, is the kind of religion story that I like to write about: people working to combat (rather than create) injustice. Kudos to the churches of Tulsa that participated in this effort to raise awareness of a bill with strong free speech and racial implications.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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