Oklahoma State Rep. Rebecca Hamilton sees no conflict between her pro-life views as a Catholic and being a stalwart Democrat who has served 18 years in the state Legislature.
Hamilton, who represents South Oklahoma City, told Catholic News Service during a break this morning in the 2013 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington that her pro-life stance evolved over time after a “powerful religious experience” in the 1980s.
It helped, she said, that she became Catholic in 2002.
Hamilton has cemented her pro-life credentials in the Legislature in recent years despite vocal objections from fellow Democrats and other supporters of Democratic politics. She said one labor official told her to keep her beliefs in church and out of the state Legislature when she shepherded one pro-life measure to passage.
All this after Hamilton worked for a stint for the National Abortion Rights Action League in Oklahoma. Back then, she said, she was hardly religious.
These days, in addition to looking out for her district, Hamilton’s focus is on threats to religious freedom that she sees emerging nationwide. She said it will take the Catholic community — a small minority in Oklahoma — working side by side with people of all faiths to be vigilant about legislative attempts to marginalize religious practice and educate the wider community that any threat to religion poses a threat to all.
One of her priorities: helping form a religious freedom caucus with other like-minded legislators to stop incursions on religious practice.
Hamilton was one of four panelists who discussed challenges to religious freedom during a conference session. She told the 150 people in attendance that her fear is that opponents of religion are becoming bolder in their attacks — verbal, through the courts and in state legislatures.
“You dehumanize a group enough, you marginalize a group enough, it becomes easy to do anything to them,” she said.
CNS will have a report on the conference tomorrow. (UPDATE: You can read the CNS report here.)