OKLAHOMA CITY – A representative who created controversial new guidelines for a popular program in the Oklahoma House of Representatives is now stepping down as the head of that program.
Rep. Chuck Strohm began serving as the chaplain coordinator for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. He oversaw the program, which allows legislators to nominate a faith leader to become a Chaplain of the Week or Chaplain of the Day. Faith leaders who are nominated will then be able to lead the Legislature in prayer at the beginning of their scheduled day.
In January, Rep. Jason Dunnington nominated Muslim Imam Imad Enchassi to be Chaplain for the Day. Enchassi was initially denied by Rep. Strohm without explanation.
When pressed, Strohm later said that only religious leaders from the representatives’ own congregation could be nominated. Currently, there are no Jewish or Muslim members of the House.
The new guidelines angered and concerned some in the religious community.
“It’s an insult to the individual faiths and an insult to the entire interfaith community,” Carl Rubenstein, past president of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, told NewsOK. “Our legislature if a legislature for all the people. That chaplaincy should be shared by all faiths.”
“We follow Christ, and Christ is the most inclusive person that ever lived and we need to do the same,” Rev. Shannon Fleck, who is a Christian member of the Interfaith community, told KFOR in February.
The controversy ultimately subsided as the pressure amid a teacher walkout intensified.
Now, it seems that Strohm is stepping down from the post.
On Friday, he announced that he will no longer serve as the chaplain coordinator.
“It has been a tremendous honor serving as the chaplain coordinator for the Oklahoma House. Effective immediately, however, I will no longer be serving in this role. Having the opportunity to meet so many pastors from our great state has been a tremendous honor and has inspired me to grow in my walk with the Lord Jesus," he said in a statement.
No word on what sparked his resignation.