OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a dozen Texas Christians rode 100 miles to Oklahoma City this week to deliver a tablet engraved with the Ten Commandments after a Decalogue display was removed from the grounds of the capitol building earlier this month.
“We’re riding for the law of God today,” John Riggs, pastor of the Texoma Cowboy Church in Wichita Falls, told those gathered. “We fully believe that this country was founded upon the principles of God’s word. It breaks our hearts to see where this country is headed and to see the removal of the law of God from our land, from our buildings.”
He said that his church had been following the situation in Oklahoma and decided to replicate the monument that had been removed and deliver a smaller version to Gov. Mary Fallin. They set out on horseback on Tuesday to achieve their mission, arriving to their destination on Friday, where they were greeted by approximately 40 Christians from various area churches.
“I believe it starts with the Church,” Riggs stated. “And so the message for me is to the Church in America today. To say to wake up, to stand up, to speak up. To speak up for the things we hold to be true and dear.”
Fallin said that she was moved by the gesture.
“They cared so much about what was happening in Oklahoma and cared so much about the Ten Commandments and what it represents—the morality of society — that they rode horses all the way to Oklahoma from Texas,” she told the Star Tribune. “You know, sometimes Texas and Oklahoma may have a little competition, but in this thing we stand together.”
She accepted the tablet, stating that she would place it in her office.
As previously reported, in light of an order from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission voted last month to give authorization to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to remove a 6-foot Ten Commandments monument from the capitol grounds.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court had ruled 7-2 in June that the monument must be removed because it violates Article 2, Section 5, of the Oklahoma Constitution, which states that property cannot be used to promote a “church denomination or system of religion.”
The display had been the subject of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), asserting that its erection on the grounds of the state capitol building was unconstitutional.
The lead plaintiff in the case was liberal minister Bruce Prescott, the director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. Prescott said that mixing the sacred with the secular in such a manner cheapens the monument, and asserted that it violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
But Fallin opposed the removal of the Decalogue display while the matter was under appeal.
“The Ten Commandments monument was built to recognize and honor the historical significance of the Commandments in our state’s and nation’s systems of laws,” she wrote in a statement.
“The monument was built and maintained with private dollars. It is virtually identical to a monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol which the United States Supreme Court ruled to be permissible,” Fallin continued. “It is a privately funded tribute to historical events, not a taxpayer funded endorsement of any religion, as some have alleged.”