Errors on Ten Commandments monument to be fixed by Monday, lawmaker says
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11/17/12 at 7:47 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Broken Arrow lawmaker who paid for a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol said the two misspellings on the 6-foot marker will be fixed by Monday.
Sabbath and maidservant were misspelled.
The 2,000-pound red granite monument was done by Si Memorials in Tulsa, said Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, who donated $10,000 for the monument and raised another $10,000 to have it installed.
"They are aware of it," said Ritze, author of the 2009 legislation calling for its installation. "They are correcting it this weekend. They said it is a simple fix."
He said the company plans to use granite powder and another product to fix it.
He said mistakes like that are common.
The monument was installed Thursday on the north grounds of the state Capitol.
Ritze said the response has been positive.
But not all are pleased with the monument's location at the statehouse.
Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said his group's phones were lighting up on Friday.
He said the common message is that residents can't believe lawmakers would waste time on such an item.
Kiesel said his board will meet Saturday to discuss the monument, but he does not believe it will reach a decision about whether the group will file a legal challenge to the monument.
"They don't belong at the seat of state government," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. "The state of Oklahoma has no business telling citizens how many gods to have or which gods to have or whether to have any god at all. The first commandment alone is reason enough to call this unconstitutional."
She said the fact that private funds paid for it does not make a difference.
"Courts do not consider that to be relevant," Gaylor said. "Once the state puts it up, hosts it and puts it in prime space representing the government, it is government speech."
Ritze has said he believes it will withstand a legal challenge, adding that a private group has agreed to defend the state should a suit be filed.
"We have tens of thousands of religions in the world and they all have their edicts and the government is not supposed to take a side and decide which is correct," Gaylor said.
She said erection of a Ten Commandments monument at a statehouse is uncommon.
The fact that a legislator is behind it makes it challengeable, she said.
Ted Kersh, pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church, thinks the monument and its placement are fine.
"I think when you take a real serious look at how our nation was built and the principles even behind our laws, you eventually find the Ten Commandments," Kersh said. "You find people who wanted to live by the Ten Commandments. I think having them on the property reminds us we are not just a nation built on the laws of man, but we are a nation built on the laws of God."
"I think as a tolerant culture, we should be open to honoring our historical roots," said Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
Original Print Headline: Errors on monument to be fixed by Monday
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Workers move a granite monument of the Ten Commandments into position before lowering it onto its base on the north side of the state Capitol on Thursday. JIM BECKEL/The Oklahoman
A woman takes a picture of the granite monument of the Ten Commandments after it was erected on the north side of the state Capitol grounds. JIM BECKEL/The Oklahoman