Following close on the heels of a Satanist group, the Universal Society of Hinduism wants to build a statue to Lord Hanuman at the Oklahoma Capitol. The proposals from various religious groups have been popping up after the legislature allowed the construction of a Ten Commandments monument.
(SOURCE) Days after a Satanist group expressed a desire to construct a monument on the grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol, a Hindu organization announced that they would also like a slice of that religious freedom pie.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, announced plans to erect a statue of the revered Hindu god Hanuman, the monkey king, outside the capitol.
Hanuman is an important deity in the Hindu pantheon. He is revered for his life of service and his devotion to the powerful god Rama.
A Republican-held legislature might have unintentionally opened the door to such displays of religious devotion when it approved a bill in 2009 that placed a Ten Commandments monument at the state’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.
“If the Oklahoma state capitol was open to different monuments, we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman,” Zed said in a press release.
“I suppose when one group gets some publicity, everyone else wants to make their point,” he told Tulsa World. “If they follow through and put forth a good application, it will be voted on. It’s hard to say. There are a lot of factors.”
The privately-funded Ten Commandments monument cost $10,000 to construct. It has sparked controversy ever since it appeared at the capitol in 2012.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Baptist Minister Bruce Prescott have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the monument.
“We must ensure that Oklahoma welcomes people of all faiths and those of no faith at all,” said Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma legal director, in a press release.
Both the Satanist and Hindu requests have come from outside Oklahoma. Zed’s group is based in Reno, Nev.
Hari Musapeta, a spokesman for the Hindu Temple of Greater Tulsa, told the World that there were about 5,000 to 8,000 Hindu families in Tulsa. He had never heard about the Universal Society of Hinduism.
Rep. Earl Sears, from Bartlesville, Okla., criticized the construction of a Satanist statue, but was hesitant to comment on Zed’s plans for a Hindu statue.
“We have a system in place to process these requests,” Sears told RNS. “I stand by my comments that we are a faith-based nation, and I know that once you open the door on this sort of thing that you can’t know where or how it will end up. We’ll just let the system work.”