Okla. officials vote to remove Ten Commandments from courthouse | us news

Okla. officials vote to remove Ten Commandments from courthouse

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Appeal heard in dispute over Ten Commandments monument.

The Capitol Preservation Commission, which manages the placement of artwork on public property, voted 7-1 to remove the one-ton granite statue, built with private dollars. DENVER (AP) – A New Mexico municipality that wants to keep a 6-foot-tall Ten Commandments monument outside city hall told a federal appeals court the structure is not government speech because it was privately funded.OKLAHOMA CITY — A 6-foot-tall granite monument of the Ten Commandments that has been outside the Oklahoma State Capitol for several years is on its way out. A panel that oversees artwork at the State House voted 7 to 1 on Tuesday to authorize the privately funded monument’s removal after the state’s highest court ruled it violated the state constitution.

In a statement Wednesday, interim party chairwoman Estela Hernandez offered to have the monument placed at the Dewey Bartlett Center, the home of the Oklahoma Republican Party. The Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier this year ruled the monument violated a state constitutional provision that prohibits the use of state property to support a religion and must be removed. As The Christian Science Monitor reported, early this summer Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ordered its removal citing that the monument indirectly benefits the Jewish and Christian faiths. The 7-1 state Supreme Court decision cited a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution that states: “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.” The Supreme Court directed a district court to issue an order to comply. Representative Mike Ritze, a Republican from Broken Arrow whose family paid about $10,000 for the monument’s construction, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment on what he plans to do with the sculpture.

John Estus, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, told the AP that it was unclear where the statue will go, or what day it will depart. A bill authorizing the monument was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by former Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, in 2009. The whole case is controversial, but something that is undeniable is that the court is getting this right,” Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Oklahoma office, told the Oklahoman earlier thus summer. “The court is following the law.” Republican state Rep. Mike Ritze, who sponsored the monument, told TheBlaze in an interview earlier this summer that he, too, will continue fighting for its presence on capitol grounds.

Ritze, who is also a doctor, said in the wake of the ruling that he and his wife decided 30 years ago to home-school their children, feeling at the time that public schools were “not teaching the basics and [were] erasing our history and heritage.” “I felt like we needed to have a monument there to show current and future generations where a lot of our laws derive from,” he said. “That’s how the monument evolved.” But Ritze said that he never intended for the symbol to be seen as religious, instead calling it a historical necessity that provides context for all citizens regarding the emergence and crafting of American law. “I like history and I look at history and what we were teaching our children … we wanted to link them to as much as the original history — different facts that are being erased in our history,” he said. “In no way, shape or form did we want the monument to be a religious symbol. Two years later, a man reportedly crashed his car into the display, claiming that the devil made him do it; Ritze again paid to repair the structure. While the Oklahoma statue stood at the capitol, other groups also asked to erect their own monuments on the capitol grounds, including Satanists, an animal rights group, and the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

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