Workers removing Ten Commandments from Oklahoma Capitol

Workers remove the Ten Commandments monument from its base on the grounds of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. The removal comes after the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in June that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A granite monument of the Ten Commandments that has sparked controversy since its installation on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds was being removed late Monday and will be transported to a private conservative think tank for storage.

A contractor the state hired began removing the monument shortly after 10:30 p.m. The works comes after the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in June that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.”

The state is paying the contractor about $4,700 to remove the monument and take it to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ offices a few blocks away, Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol had increased security around the monument earlier Monday, and barriers were erected to keep visitors from getting close to it. Estus said the decision to remove the monument under the cover of darkness was made to avoid disturbing workers at the Capitol and to keep protesters from demonstrating while heavy equipment was being used to detach the two-ton monument from its base.

“We wanted it to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and doing it at night gave us the best opportunity to do that,” Estus said. “The Highway Patrol was also very concerned that having it in the middle of the day could lead to having demonstrations of some kind.”

Originally authorized by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009, the privately funded monument has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was erected in 2012, prompting a lawsuit from Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister from Norman who complained it violated the state constitution.

“Frankly, I’m glad we finally got the governor and attorney general to agree to let the monument be moved to private property, which is where I believe it’s most appropriate,” Prescott said Monday. “I’m not opposed to the Ten Commandments. The first sermon I ever preached was on the Ten Commandments. I’m just opposed to it being on public property.”

Its placement at the Capitol prompted requests from several groups to have their own monuments installed, including a satanic church in New York that wanted to erect a 7-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard. A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also made requests.

The original monument was smashed into pieces last year when someone drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A 29-year-old man who was arrested the next day was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment, and formal charges were never filed. A new monument was erected in January.

Former state Rep. Mike Reynolds, a Republican who voted to authorize the monument, was one of just a handful of supporters who watched as the monument was removed Monday night.

“This is a historical event,” Reynolds said. “Now we know we have to change the Constitution. It would be good to get rid of some of the Supreme Court justices, too.”

Several conservative legislators have promised to introduce a resolution when the Legislature convenes in February to send to a public vote an amendment that would remove the article of the constitution that prevents the use of public money or property for religious purposes.

1 thought on “Workers removing Ten Commandments from Oklahoma Capitol

  1. Whatever is holy and righteous is turned to evil, it’s intolerant and hateful. Yet, evil is exalted and praised — HELLO!
    Everything that is good is twisted, turned upside down, is the world we live in now.

    Evil: noun; meaning very bad, corrupt, immoral, wicked. This is what is being held up in society today. God help us.

    The removal of the Supreme law of God in the shadows of darkness is telling in itself, and put in storage no less. Two tablets that apparently is feared by most. Two tablets that when, what is written on them is observe is a blessing and when not brings judgment and calamity.
    The spiritual and secular rules that has governed our country to superiority, prosperity and been a beacon to other nations, we’re now putting it away and dismissing it, for what?… I wonder…
    God is not mocked or put away.

    We as a Judeo-Christian society have given ourselves over to the other side. Have turned our backs on the source of life and blessings. And in doing so have sealed our destiny….
    Ultimately God is in control. As individuals, we must be strong for the challenges that face us are great… Do not loose hope, do not loose faith, do not loose the grace that’s given to us all, when we accept Jesus into our lives. They can remove everything that is physical but not the spirit within each of us. It’s crucial now to show the light of God in us, in our behavior towards others, in our mannerism, in our attitudes, in our lives, who we stand with. Not by anger or strife but but love and forgiveness. As Our Savior Himself said to The Father ‘forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’. Let the will of God be in you. God bless.

    My deepest sorrow that the courts and Oklahoma caved in under pressure, instead of standing for the meaning behind the two tablets. Had they prevailed in standing for its values, God would have protected them and this country. God honor’s those who honor Him.

    Dear God in heaven, help us all to see Your light, Your grace, Your mercy in our lives. Protect us from evil. Above all, Thy will be done. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

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