Ten Commandments monument installed at Capitol
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 7:19 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Ten Commandments monument was installed Thursday on the north grounds of the state Capitol.
It was paid for with private funds, $10,000, donated by Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, and another $10,000 raised privately.
Ritze said he was pleased it was finally installed. He said the Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the state and country.
"I would say that the state Capitol is the seat of government in Oklahoma," said Ryan Kiesel, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma executive director. "It ought to be a welcoming environment for all faiths and those of no faith. When legislatures set up a monument that seems to put one faith above others, it creates an environment where some visitors will feel like second-class citizens."
Kiesel is a former Democratic House member and an attorney.
Kiesel said it is premature to say whether his organization will file a lawsuit to have it removed.
"I think under the very best of circumstances, it is of questionable constitutionality," Kiesel said.
Ritze believes the monument's placement will withstand a legal challenge, adding that a challenge will be defended by the Liberty Legal Foundation at no cost to the state.
The creators misspelled Sabbath on the Oklahoma monument. Ritze said that the monument company is aware of the typo and that it will be easy to fix.
The monument is made of red granite. It is six feet tall and three feet wide. It weighs 2,000 pounds.
Former Gov. Brad Henry in 2009 signed House Bill 1330 allowing for the construction of the monument. Ritze was the House author.
The measure was passed despite concerns that the move could result in a costly legal challenge and could be interpreted as the state's endorsement of a religion.
Kiesel said he thought it was disingenuous of supporters to say the monument was for historical purposes, adding that it is a deeply religious and spiritual symbol.
"Frankly, I think the people of Oklahoma that include the Ten Commandments in their worship should be offended these individuals seek to discount the Ten Commandments to some secular, historical symbol," Kiesel said.
Original Print Headline: Monument put in place at Capitol
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
A Ten Commandments monument is up on the grounds of the state Capitol. BARBARA HOBEROCK/Tulsa World
Rep. Mike Ritze: He wrote a bill authorizing the installation of the Capitol's Ten Commandments monument
Ryan Kiesel: The former lawmaker and ACLU state director says his group isn't sure if it will file a lawsuit to have a newly installed Ten Commandments monument removed from the state Capitol. But he challenges the legality of it. "I think under the very best of circumstances, it is of questionable constitutionality," he said