With little fanfare, a Ten Commandments monument is erected at the state Capitol.
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK
A large granite monument of the Ten Commandments now stands outside the state Capitol building.
The monument is the result of a measure introduced by state Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, and passed by the Legislature in 2009 allowing for a privately paid-for monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds.
Little fanfare accompanied the Nov. 15 installation on the north side of the building, with about a dozen nonworkers watching, including Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.
The monument is identical to Ten Commandments monuments in other states — including one in Austin, Texas — except for the dedication plaque at its bottom, said the piece’s creator, Gary Mosier of SI Memorials.
Money for the monument was raised by the Ritze family. The legislator was not on hand when the monument was erected.
The monument includes a few spelling errors, as well. Sabbath is spelled “sabbeth,” manservant reads as “manseruant” and failing to use the possessive form of neighbor in “nor anything that is thy neighbors.”
The first two mistakes were subsequently corrected by workers.
Other Ten Commandments monuments on public property in Oklahoma, such as one at the Haskell County Courthouse, have been ruled unconstitutional.
Reynolds said there may be some backlash against the monument being put up, but that any legal challenges to it should have been two years ago when the bill was passed, and that any new legal challenges would prove “frivolous.”
He said a monument of the Ten Commandments was chosen because of its “historical significance” and “the influence of things of that nature on our country.”
Ryan Kiesel, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said it is too early to say whether the organization will mount a legal challenge.
Nevertheless, he said calling the Ten Commandments purely historical is “disingenuous,” and offensive to those who incorporate the commandments into their faith.
The monument essentially sends a message to those who may not incorporate the Ten Commandments into their belief system that they are second-class citizens, according to Kiesel.
“The state Capitol in Oklahoma is the seat of government,” he said.
“It’s a building that belongs to people of Oklahoma, regardless of faith or even if they have no faith at all.”