The Oklahoma Senate has pulled a bill that would have allowed the Ten Commandments to be posted on public property, including schools and courthouses, effectively killing legislation that had already been approved by the State House.
After a years-long battle over a Ten Commandments monument outside the Capitol building — which conservatives lost — State Rep. John Bennett proposed House Bill 2177 which would let “historically significant documents” be plastered in public spaces. But let’s be honest: no one cares about the Magna Carta. This was always about promoting Christianity through the government.
In presenting the bill… Bennett made it clear his primary interest is the Ten Commandments, saying they have “impacted American law and culture with a force similar only to that of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Bennett never explained how rules about worshiping only one specific God, rejecting false idols, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and taking the Lord’s name in vain have anything to do with our law… but I’m not the one spinning an obvious lie.
He also ignored the fact that it’s legal (though not ethical) to commit adultery, lie, and covet. The point is: our law is not based on the Decalogue.
Bennett was so aware that what he was doing was wrong that the bill included a passage authorizing the Attorney General to defend it using taxpayer money. You know, just in case they got sued.
Bills that don’t break the law don’t need that provision.
Would Islamic or Satanic displays be included in the mix? Not at all, said another Republican legislator:
Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Edmond, said it is unlikely the law could be used to erect a monument to “Satanism” because “I don’t think our country was founded on Satanism.”
Similarly, Calvey said, the Koran need not be included because, he said, Islam did not play a significant role in the founding of America.
(For what it’s worth, The Satanic Temple’s Seven Fundamental Tenets have more overlap with the Constitution than just about everything in the Ten Commandments.)
All of that took place in March, and I was certain the bill would skate through the Senate. It’s not like the GOP cares about respecting the Constitution when cheap promotion of Christianity is on the line.
But check out what happened yesterday:
A bill that could have allowed the Ten Commandments on government property was quietly pulled from consideration Thursday, severely hurting its chances to become law.
House Bill 2177 was on the Senate agenda, but Floor Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, announced that it wouldn’t be heard before moving on to other business. House bills must be heard in the Senate by the end of business Thursday.
That’s it. It’s gone. No explanation offered. Maybe Treat was hoping no one would notice so that House Republicans could still get credit for trying to push their religious views on everyone else while avoiding the backlash when the state inevitably got sued.
In any case, this latest attempt to push the Ten Commandments onto the public has failed. It won’t be the last time conservatives try something like this, but take solace in the fact that they either recognized the folly of passing this bill or couldn’t do it despite overwhelming GOP majorities in the Capitol.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Rick for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)