The ACLU of Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit over the placement of a Ten Commandments monument in front of the state capitol building. And yes, this is the same monument that contained several misspelled words when it was unveiled late last year. One of the plaintiffs in the case is Bruce Prescott, aka the Mainstream Baptist.
“The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma’s Executive Director. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.”…
The lawsuit also seeks to remedy the state monument’s impact on Jewish and Christian believers. The government has taken a text that, in various forms, is deeply sacred in both of these faiths and have trivialized its religious meaning by placing it in a political and secular context, with its proponents arguing that the monument is a constitutionally permissible recitation of a purely non-religious history of our legal system and government.“To argue that the monument merely commemorates something historical rather than religious is a slap in the face to the many Oklahomans, like myself, who incorporate the Ten Commandments into our religious practice,” said Plaintiff Bruce Prescott of Norman, an ordained Baptist minister and theologian.
As is always the case in such situations, it will almost certainly be easy to find lots of statements from the government officials involved in the decision to put the monument up that reveal their purpose to be solely religious. Our best weapon in such cases is the ignorance of our opponents and the fact that they’re trying to score points with the Christian right by declaring, “See, we’re standing up for God and Christianity.” But doing so triggers a purpose prong violation under the Lemon test.