LeFlore County Commissioners in Oklahoma Doubt Anyone Will Care About Their Ten Commandments Monument

The LeFlore County commissioners in Oklahoma want to get sued.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to them, either — they know what they’re doing is wrong but they’re hoping that, since no one’s complained yet, we’ll all be silent in the future, too.

The whole controversy involves a Ten Commandments monument that the commissioners want to place on the courthouse property:

A Ten Commandments momument sits in Haskell County, Oklahoma

Charlie Horsley said he asked commissioners Nov. 5 to consider the proposal on behalf of former Poteau Mayor Don Barnes, who has pursued the monument for years but has recently had health problems.

Horsley said supporters of the LeFlore County monument wanted to revive their plan at least partly because they believe that the Haskell County monument has remained on county property without objection.

“LeFlore County is the Ten Commandments capital,” Horsley said. “We have a Ten Commandments sign in every town in LeFlore County.”

He said the effort is influenced by American history, not religion. County courthouses are the perfect setting for the Ten Commandments because the commandments influenced American laws, he added.

“We do believe that the founding fathers used God’s law to help prepare some of the laws we have today,” he said, pointing to commandments not to steal, murder or bear false witness. “That’s all part of our laws. It’s all part of us today.”

First of all, lying isn’t a crime unless you do it under oath. And what about the other Commandments Horsley conveniently forgot? Praying to false idols? Taking the Lord’s name in vain? Keeping the Sabbath day holy? Coveting? All ignored in our laws. And for good reason, too.

If Horsley wants to put up a sign that say, “No Murdering or Stealing in LeFlore County,” he has my support. But he won’t accept that because he knows damn well this is all about putting his religion on public property.

These commissioners have seen towns around them get sued and yet they’re considering going through with this, anyway. That’s true delusion: to see it happen to others but think it won’t happen to you.

Well, people are paying attention, and if he gets the county to put the monument up, rest assured there are church/state separation groups just waiting to file the lawsuit.

(Thanks to Beau for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/rohart Roger Ivan Hart

    How big will the board need to be to display all the following verses that explain what the commandments mean?

  • Lee Miller

    Why is it so hard to understand that it’s only our secular form of government that assures true religious (or non-religious) freedom for all?  That was clear to me even when I was a Christian.  I wish there was another religious group ready to confront situations like this by requesting to install a non-Christian monument in the same location.  I think that’s the only object lesson that would get through to these people. 

  • Plot Happens

    I was wondering when the county I grew up in would wind up on here.

  • jeffj900

    To be fair, lying should be included as one of the three commandments that has some relevance to our law. Of course there is perjury, but also fraud, libel, defamation, slander, false advertising, and probably several other contexts in which providing false information counts as a crime.

    Still three of ten isn’t a very good record. Christians aren’t clear on the concept of what it means for one thing to be based on another if they think our legal system is founded on the Ten Commandments. Even more annoying is that they are blind to other sources that may inspire our Ten Commandments, such as the code of Hammurabi. There are a number of legal codes preceding the mosaic laws: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_legal_codes#By_date

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Yes. Simple math. 3 of the 10 commandments are part of US law. That’s 30%. 
    By any school’s standards, getting 30% is a FAIL. Sorry, god, you lose. 

    Meanwhile, the first 4 are purely religious, and our US Constitution explicitly goes against those (e.g. Yahweh says worship only him, while the US Constitution says worship whatever gods you want). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    ” “We do believe that the founding fathers used God’s law to help
    prepare some of the laws we have today,” he said, pointing to
    commandments not to steal, murder or bear false witness.”If those are Gods laws then the said idiot should be made to explain why those same laws are common to ALL cultures, whether they are the fundy faith heads of Christianity, Islam, Judaeism, Buddhism, or atheistic Chinese Confucianism or animist Taosim, Bon, or even the bushmen of Africa and the first peoples of the US and Australia and New Zealand. Or every other culture that has, is or will be.Answer: Because they are the basic glue, the essential rules that stick civilisation together thats why Mr Krystyhun dickwad. Only truly abberant society groups like the Kali worshipping Thuggee go against or went against those rules. Everyone else has all three, whether they believe in one god, many gods, or none at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

     In the most basic terms American laws are based on European law, especially that of the UK. The UK legal code has its roots in Roman Law and Dane Law. Both those codes are actually pagan systems. The Canon Law parts of the UK legal code were all but dead long before the Founders set to work adapting the UK system to the new nation and its Great Experiment.

    Your laws are secular and Enlightenment laws, and nothing to do with this Krystyhun cackola.

    The US should be rightly proud that it had in effect the frst secular modern legal codes, and see any attack or attempt by the fundys to attach it to their iron age rule book as an attack on your heritage.

  • Plot Happens

    I did want to point out that the picture above is actually from Stigler, OK which is in Haskell County (as seen on the sign on the front of the American Legion Hut) and not in Leflore. That ridiculously ugly building in the background is the courthouse in Stigler.  http://www.ldjackson.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/ten_commandments.jpg

  • busterggi

    Well at least rape is still legal in LeFlore County.

  • Gus Snarp

    Why do they feel the need to do such ignorant things? For the history of the county none of the devout Christians around felt the need to do this, but now, for some reason, we have to put up a Ten Commandments monument. And people say atheists are antagonizing people by being too “in your face”?

    Maybe we should place monuments with the Code of Hammurabi in front of all courthouses. After all, it probably predates the Ten Commandments, and strongly influenced many of the laws in the Bible. If we have to go all the way back to the Ten Commandments, why not go all the way to the original source material?

  • Plot Happens

    And slavery, don’t forget slavery.

  • Gus Snarp

    Yes, the most important things about American law, the things that set it apart, are not found anywhere in the Bible. 

    As you say, We the People – that the power to govern derives from the consent of the governed rather than from divine right.

    That government and religion are, and ought to forever remain, separate entities that do not intertwine.

    That laws ought to be written down in formal documents thought out in advance, rather than relying on a mish mash of judicial precedent accumulated over time (thanks, Brits, for accumulating that mish mash of judicial precedent over time so that we could pick and choose from it in writing our Constitution.

    That no man is above the law, and that the law strictly confines the powers of government.

    The Ten Commandments is about as relevant to what made America special as a copy of Skymall. 

  • C Peterson

    Virtually no culture has fully embraced laws against killing or stealing, because these things are not required for a healthy society. What they have done… and continue to do today… is restrict legal killing to members outside their societies, and to specific classes within their societies.

    Even these most fundamental rules of cultural morality are far from the absolute form given in the Old Testament (and of course, few rules are more flagrantly violated in the Old Testament than those against stealing and murder- usually at the insistence of the god who made those rules!)

  • C Peterson

    The only thing that shows more ignorance, stupidity, and hubris than defending an existing Ten Commandments display in a public place is the attempt to place a new one. At least in the former case an argument can be made for tradition (an incredibly weak argument, admittedly, but at least a hair to hang on). But a new display, in today’s world, where the FFRF is far more likely to prevail in court than Billy Graham? Just crazy!

  • Octoberfurst

     What is it with these idiots? Seriously!  I will never understand the obsession of some Christians to post the Ten Commandments in every school, courthouse, park and government building across the land.  What’s the point? Does it make the baby Jesus smile?  They say it is to remind people of our “Godly heritage” and to inspire “good behavior.”  Uh-huh. I can’t imagine some kid in High school who is about to say “God damn it!” suddenly seeing “Thou shall not take the name of the lord thy God in vain” on the Ten Commandment monument and saying to himself: ‘By golly I was about to swear but God doesn’t want me to do that so I won’t.”
       The REAL reason is that just want to shove their Christianity in everyone’s face. (And they call us “arrogant”!)  It’s the same with the “Year of the Bible” crap and the “National Day of Prayer” etc. Frankly I am sick of it!  If they want to have Ten Commandment monuments in their front yards or fly huge banners over their homes saying “Jesus is Lord!” by all means do so. But keep it out of the public sphere. 
      I’m sure that if and when these cretins are challenged they will scream “persecution” like they always do.  

  • A3Kr0n

     Then we march to Haskell next. Re-dip your torches!

  • Chas Stewart

    The court system was victorious in removing that monument off of the county courthouse property…to somewhere next door. Still! Success! http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=12154623

  • Chas Stewart

    I know that we at AUOK will be watching.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Thanks! Updated the post.

  • Gus Snarp

    Since you mentioned taking the Lord’s name in vain, I thought of this piece from This American Life, involving a Jewish boy named Shalom in a religious school, where using his own name, since it was one of the names of God, in vain would get him punished. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/332/the-ten-commandments

    It made me wonder, while I realize that there are people who better understand the original texts and what some of the words meant before translation, what if that commandment really just meant not to name your child, or call yourself, Yahweh?

  • Plot Happens

    For some reason having you respond to my post is amazingly satisfying even though it seems like such a small thing. I’ve been reading your blog for well over a year on a daily basis. Thanks for the effort you put in to everything, it’s a constant source of insight and intelligent thought. Being an atheist in Oklahoma has been my personal version of hell and this blog is one of the few outlets I have to a world without religious delusions. You’ve made my day and probably my week. I think that will be all for my fanboy moment.

  • Plot Happens

    First Haskell, next the rest of this Bible-blighted state. Onward in the name of equality and secular government!

  • Coyotenose

     And assaulting minors with bears (as long as they’re female bears for some reason.)

  • freemage

    The FFRF should send the board a letter (and CC: it to the local media) thanking them for the generous donation they’re going to be making to the organization’s legal fund, thereby permitting them to be more aggressive on issues and cases that aren’t as slam-dunk as this one. 

  • N__8

    Hebrew for vain also means vanity.  I could see this as having happened.

    source: google translate
    nounשואvain, vanity, falsehood, worthlessness, lie, nothingness

  • Marco Conti

    I could be wrong, but isn’t the 10 commandment monument engraved? And isn’t that covered by the second commandment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1220871538 Alan Eckert

    Trivial, but of note. This guy’s name is awfully similar to Charlie Horse.

    *this post is not meant to be substantive by any means.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    The argument that the Ten Commandments are the basis for our laws gets an F, and here’s why:

    Only three of the ten commandments are reflected in U.S. laws, the prohibitions against killing, stealing and bearing false witness (lying). Lying is only against the law in very specific situations, such as reporting things to police, being under oath, or meeting the narrow criteria for slander or libel.

    The other seven commandments, if they were ever written into law, would immediately be thrown out as unconstitutional.  For instance, worshiping no other gods before Yahweh or not working on the sabbath? First Amendment violation. Not making graven images, coveting your neighbor’s stuff or honoring your parents? Lots of luck with laws like that. Adultery is only pertinent in legal proceedings in divorce cases, and
    it is considered immaterial now in most states which only consider “irreconcilable differences” as a cause to dissolve a marriage contract. It is not a crime except in the military.

    If a student gets only three out of ten answers right on a test, he gets an F.

  • Mary Crider


    Please access this link for an accurate account of the Ten Commandments public monument push by a group of LeFlore County residents and the Supreme Court-ordered resolution (removal) of the case of the monument that was placed at the Haskell County, Oklahoma, courthouse.
    The County Commission is the entity that would have to OK the placement of the monument on courthouse property. The commissioners have not, at this point, given that permission. They withdrew permission in an earlier monument placement attempt by the same group of residents.

    Mary L. Crider