Oklahoma Will Let Voters Decide Whether or Not to Bring Back Illegal Ten Commandments Monument

You know, it took long enough for the Oklahoma Supreme Court to say that a Ten Commandments monument on the State Capitol grounds was illegal, but that’s what they finally did last June. After years of litigation, this monument finally came down:

Commandments

Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma (via James Nimmo)

Republican officials in the state are now trying to do anything they can to bring it back.

Yesterday, the State Senate approved a ballot measure by a vote of 39-5 that would put the legality of the monument in the hands of the voters.

Senate Joint Resolution 72 would repeal the part of the State Constitution preventing public money from being used for religious purposes.

This measure repeals Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. This section prohibits the use of public monies or property for sectarian or religious purposes.

SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED?

FOR THE PROPOSAL — YES _____________
AGAINST THE PROPOSAL — NO _____________

The wording is a little confusing there, but the answer is “No” — that part of the Constitution doesn’t need to be changed.

What’s the big deal about Article 2, Section 5? That’s the passage cited by the Supreme Court in making a case for the monument to be taken down.

The text of Article 2, Section 5 [of the State Constitution]…:

“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 plain intent of Article 2, Section 5 is to ban State Government, its officials, and its subdivisions from using public money or property for the benefit of any religious purpose. Use of the words “no,” “ever,” and “any” reflects the broad and expansive reach of the ban.

As concerns the “historic purpose” justification, the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.

The legislators assume, then, that if the passage is removed from the state Constitution, the monument can come back.

They’re wrong. They’re forgetting that the federal Constitution specifically prevents government endorsement of religion. You’d think legislators would be aware of that, but I guess their Jesus Glasses filter out whatever they learned in Civics class.

If this ballot measure passes, Oklahoma could be embroiled in yet another lawsuit over this monument.

At least the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue would finally get a new home.

(Thanks to Emily for the link. Portions of this article were posted earlier)

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.


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