COLUMBUS – A group of religiously diverse members of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus have come together to release a joint statement vigorously speaking out against a proposed amendment that would have made it mandatory for all House sessions to begin with a “Christian Prayer.” State Reps. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson), Ismail Mohamed (D-Columbus), Munira Yasin Abdullahi (D-Columbus), Anita Somani (D-Dublin) and Dani Isaacsohn (D-Cincinnati) denounce the failed amendment that blatantly ignored one of the United States of America’s most fundamental freedoms.
“Our great country was built on the sacred freedom of religious liberty for all. This shameful amendment was not only unconstitutional, but it was also a slap in the face to the millions of non-Christian Ohioans who call this state their home and are helping it grow,” said House Democrats. “We can’t build a better life and a brighter future for Ohioans until we find love and acceptance in our hearts for everyone, no matter their religion, their race or their sexuality. The focus of House Democrats is on bettering the lives and opportunities for all Ohioans, not culture war issues that do nothing but distract from that important work and tear us apart.”
Reps. Abdullahi and Mohamed- the first Somali-Americans elected to the Ohio House- are devout Muslims.
“The foundation of working toward a better future for Ohioans is upholding our established constitutional freedoms,” said Rep. Abdullahi. “As Ohio House Representative of District 9, I strive to better the lives of our constituents by working on the real-world issues they’re facing, not working to exclude the very citizens that afforded us our positions.”
“As one of two Muslim-American legislators, I am proud to represent my constituents at the Statehouse and to make it clear to them, and any other religious minorities, that this is the people's house and that includes all people,” said Rep. Mohamed.
Rep. Somani is a practicing Hindu.
“As a first-generation immigrant and state representative, I look forward to an Ohio that is inclusive and welcomes diversity in religion, race and gender,” said Rep. Somani. “We are stronger together when we support freedoms of every type.”
Reps. Weinstein and Isaacsohn are both of the Jewish faith.
‘The Statehouse is the people’s house. My colleagues pushing this rule would do well to remember that we represent ALL Ohioans, not just those who think like us,” said Rep. Weinstein.
“Freedom of religion has made our country a beacon for millions of people since our founding. It is at the core of who we are as Americans,” said Rep. Isaacsohn. “As Thomas Jefferson noted when it came to religious freedom, ‘divided we stand, united we fall.’ Our diversity is our strength.”
Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) condemned the proposed amendment and believes diversity of all kinds must always be respected.
“Our Constitution protects the fundamental freedom of religion and respecting the religious diversity of all Ohioans is the cornerstone to building communities where everyone can live safely and prosper together,” said Leader Russo. “This amendment was nothing but divisive and contemptuous to the communities we serve. Diversity of any kind must always be respected and House Democrats will do whatever is necessary to ensure all Ohioans’ freedoms are protected and never ignored.”