OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — An American Hindu organization says that it will renew its pursuit to erect a statue of the Hindu god Hanuman at the Oklahoma State Capitol if residents vote next week to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed.
“Hindu statesman Rajan Zed … said that if and when [the] Oklahoma State Capitol became open again in the future to different monuments and space was available in the statehouse grounds, Hindus would love to request placing a statue of Lord Hanuman, which might become the first Hindu religious monument on public land in USA,” the Universalist Society of Hinduism in Nevada said in a statement on Wednesday.
“[B]esides honoring the Hindus living in Oklahoma, this Lord Hanuman statue would raise awareness of Oklahomans about Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought,” it stated.
On Tuesday, voters in Oklahoma will decide on a ballot initiative that asks whether or not the state Constitution should be amended to allow government property for religious benefit.
“This measure would remove Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits the government from using public money or property for the direct or indirect benefit of any religion or religious institution,” the measure reads.
“Article 2, Section 5 has been interpreted by the Oklahoma courts as requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the State Capitol,” it explains. “If this measure repealing Article 2, Section 5 is passed, the government would still be required to comply with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which is a similar constitutional provision that prevents the government from endorsing a religion or becoming overly involved with religion.”
As previously reported, a Ten Commandments monument was removed from the Capitol grounds in October 2015 after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the display violated 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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma was at the helm of the legal effort to have the monument removed, as it asserted that the placement of the Decalogue 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.
In the midst of the conflict, the Satanic Temple soon sought to place a Baphomet statue on the capitol grounds, and the Universalist Society of Hinduism applied to erect a monument to its monkey deity Hanuman.
“Hanuman, the monkey God, is considered Chiranjeevi (will live eternally). He is strong, full of valor, with various skills and powers. At the same time, he is wise, a great gnani, a yogi, a brahmachari,” the site Indian-Heritage.org outlines. “He is worshiped in the temples as Bhaktha Hanuman and Veera Hanuman.”
In April, following the removal of the Ten Commandments monument and a determination among some to have it restored, lawmakers approved a resolution to place the Ten Commandments controversy on the Oklahoma ballot.
A “yes” vote on Tuesday would mean one is favor of allowing the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds, while a “no” vote would mean one desires to retain the status quo.