In a decisive 7-2 ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that the Ten Commandments Monument erected at the State Capitol must be removed. The monument was a gift from Republican State Representative Mike Ritze. However, plaintiffs argued that the monument’s placement at the Capitol involved the use of public property for the benefit of a specific religion. They argued, and the court agreed, that the Oklahoma Constitution clearly prohibits such a display promoting one religion over others.
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.
In the courts’ opinion, the justices ruled that since the monument operated for the benefit of a specific system of religion, it clearly violated the Oklahoma Constitution.
Brady Henderson, the legal director for the ACLU of Oklahoma praised the ruling, stating:
I think that at the end of the day it is the right decision simply because it acknowledges limits on the government’s power to effectively decide what religious edicts are right and wrong.
Republican Governor Mary Fallin, was predictably upset by the ruling, and she vowed to work with the state’s Attorney General to “evaluate the state’s legal options moving forward”.
While many evangelical Christians are sure to express their displeasure with the court’s decision, it is clear that the state’s constitution prohibits such blatant displays privileging a specific religion over all others. Many Christian conservatives believe that they follow the “one true religion” and that all others should be subjected to their belief system. However, in a society that values the separation of church and state, imposing one’s own religion upon others is against the law. The state’s Supreme Court has made it clear that the law applies even in Oklahoma.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.