OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — A lawmaker in Oklahoma has proposed a bill that would eliminate a section of the state Constitution that was cited by the state Supreme Court in preventing a Ten Commandments monument from remaining at the capitol grounds.
State Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon, submitted House Joint Resolution 1036 on Monday, which would serve as a an amendment to remove Article II, Section 5 from the Oklahoma Constitution.
As previously reported, last week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the existing monument on the grounds of the state capitol must go because it conflicted with the prohibition on government property being used to promote a “church denomination or system of religion.”
“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such,” the section reads.
Now, Jordan, with the help of over a dozen other lawmakers, are working to undo the ruling by eliminating the language at issue.
“After reviewing the Supreme Court’s Ten Commandments ruling, it is clear that we have a toxic provision in our state Constitution,” he said in a news release. “It was written with discrimination in mind, and like a malignant tumor, needs to be removed completely.”
Jordan said that the restriction could have adverse effects in other ways besides the monument.
“I am under the opinion the court’s strict interpretation of the language of Article II, Section 5 could have far reaching implications,” he stated. “It could possibly lead to the Native American artwork in the Capitol and State Supreme Court buildings being removed as much of it is religious in nature. In addition, it could lead to individuals on state funded insurance programs being unable to receive medical care as a large portion of hospitals in Oklahoma are supported by a religious affiliation.”
“Taken to an extreme it could even lead to churches, synagogues, mosques and other buildings used for religious purposes being unable to receive police and fire protection as they would be directly or indirectly benefiting from public monies,” Jordan continued.
As previously reported, on Tuesday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin responded to the ruling by not only announcing that she would continue the legal fight to keep the commandments, but that the legislature would also consider amending the state Constitution to protect the display.
“At this time, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, with my support, has filed a petition requesting a rehearing of the Ten Commandments case. Additionally, our legislature has signaled its support for pursuing changes to our state Constitution that will make it clear the Ten Commandments monument is legally permissible,” she said in a press release. “If legislative efforts are successful, the people of Oklahoma will get to vote on the issue.”