Oklahoma Officials to Consider Establishing Ten Commandments Monument at County Courthouse

Officials in Oklahoma have agreed to consider plans to establish a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of a county courthouse.

LeFlore County representatives had approved a request in 2009 from former Poteau Mayor Don Barnes to erect the statue, but halted the measure after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a similar monument in neighboring Haskell County was unconstitutional. Barnes had the stone tablets created following a successful fundraising drive, and was ready to display them when the ruling came down.

At first, the Ten Commandments were available for public viewing at Community State Bank in Poteau, but were moved to a lot near a local restaurant after the Federal Reserve Bank claimed that the monument violated banking regulations.

Charles Horsley of the local Disabled American Veterans chapter is now spearheading efforts to have a second set of tablets displayed at the LeFlore County Courthouse or similar location. He says that the request is on behalf of Barnes and is a personal project, not an effort of the veterans organization.

“We do believe that the Founding Fathers used God’s law to help prepare some of the laws we have today,” Horsley told Tulsa World. “That’s all part of our laws. It’s all part of us today.”

Commissioner Chairman Lance Smith advised Horsley earlier this month that the county needed to wait a few weeks to discuss the matter, as he wished for all commissioners to be present at the hearing. Smith also remarked that he wanted to first consult with the district attorney’s office before proceeding.

“I don’t want to get the county bogged down in an expensive lawsuit,” he said.

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Officials in neighboring Haskell County settled with the ACLU in 2010 after losing their lawsuit, and agreed to pay $199,000 over a ten year period.

“The citizens want one up at the courthouse; it’s not just me,” Horsley told Tulsa’s Channel 8, who advised that he has a donor on hand who will pay for the new monument. “[I]t’s time to put it on the courthouse.”

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