Sue Ogrocki/AP
The Ten Commandments monument is pictured at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City Tuesday June 30.

Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument ordered to be removed

The Ten Commandments monument violated Oklahoma's state Constitution, which bars using public money to support religion.

The Ten Commandments monument on state Capitol grounds must be removed, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The court said that the monument indirectly benefits the Jewish and Christian faiths and is in violation of the state constitution.

According to Oklahama’s NewsOk, a 7-2 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 monument was installed in November 2012, three years after a bill authorizing it was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed into law by then Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat and was paid for with private funds through Rep. Mike Ritze, (R) of Broken Arrow, Okla..

Tuesday’s ruling overturned a decision by Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince in March, which said the plaintiffs, New Jersey-based American Atheists Inc., failed to show standing to bring the suit.

The monument has been at the center of more than one lawsuit, which have argued that it violates the state Constitution's prohibition against using public property to support "any sect, church, denomination or system of religion." 

In May, Aaron Cooper, spokesman for Oklahoma’s Attorney General, argued that the Ten Commandments monument was not serving a religious purpose.  

“The Ten Commandments has played a historical role in the founding of this nation,” said Mr. Cooper, “And because it honors the historical role of the commandments, the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is constitutional.”

As far as the "historic purpose" justification goes, "the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths," justices stated in Tuesday's ruling.

In October 2014, the monument was damaged when a man drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. The monument was replaced early this year with an exact replica commissioned by Representative Ritze’s family.  

Other groups have 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."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument ordered to be removed
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today