Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Bill Allowing Display of Ten Commandments on Public Grounds

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Lawmakers in Oklahoma have passed a bill that would allow for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and on the grounds of such facilities in the context of being a historical display.

The House of Representatives passed H.B. 2177 on Thursday 60-14 after clearing the Senate overwhelmingly last week 39-3. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin.

“Every county, municipality, city, town, school or any other political subdivision is authorized to display, in its public buildings and on its grounds, replicas of historical documents including, but not limited to, the Ten Commandments, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Oklahoma Constitution and other historically significant documents in the form of statues, monuments, memorials, tablets or any other display that respects the dignity and solemnity of such documents,” the bill reads in part.

Read it in full here.

Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, was among the legislation’s supporters.

“If we’re going to ban a document of this historic importance because it speaks of God, then we need to ban the Declaration of Independence,” he stated, according to Public Radio Tulsa, also pointing to the Gettysburg Address. “Obviously, each of these bans would be ludicrous.”

One lawmaker, Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, sought to amend the measure to state that if the Oklahoma attorney general had to defend the matter in court, the legal costs should be taken from the road funds of the bill’s authors. The proposal failed 7 to 33, according to Tulsa World.

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The legislation had first been presented last year, and passed the House as well at that time, but did not get a full vote during the legislative season. It was brought back to the table in March for consideration.

The move appears to serve as a means to restore the Ten Commandments to the state capitol after it was removed in October 2015 following a ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

As previously reported, 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 April 2016, following the removal of the monument and a determination among some to have it restored, lawmakers approved a resolution to place the Ten Commandments controversy on the Oklahoma ballot. But the resolution was rejected by voters in November 57 to 42 percent.

As previously reported, the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Van Orden v. Perry, which upheld a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol, noted that Decalogue displays are “common throughout America.”

“We need only look within our own courtroom,” the justices wrote. “Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze.”

“Similar acknowledgments can be seen throughout a visitor’s tour of our nation’s capital. For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897,” the decision continued. “And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8).”

“A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the national archives,” the court outlined. “Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled “The Spirit of Law” has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments.”


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  • Regeanvoter

    Read the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The ACLU is wrong, entirely in their assertion that the Constitution forbids such a display. In fact, the Constitution forbids any federal law that would prevent a state from exercising this freedom.

    • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

      States don’t have religious freedom, only people do. Anyone in favor of state-imposed religion is against religious freedom.

      • Ira Pistos

        Where is the state imposed religion?

        • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

          The state display of the ten commandments. You might want to read up on what the first amendment covers; it isn’t limited to “a state imposed religion”.

          Why would anyone want the government to decide what religions to promote, anyway?

          • Ira Pistos

            You’ve unfortunately forgotten that it was you who said that anyone in favor of state imposed religion is against freedom of religion.

            It is amusing, the frequency with which those who suggest that others read up on the 1st amendment don’t actually know what the 1st amendment is about.
            The sole purpose of the 1st amendment to the US constitution was to prevent the federal government from imposing upon the religious freedom of the States.

            You will note upon examination that the original state charters were predominantly founded upon the official Christian religion of the given state.

            So the purpose of the 1st amendment to the US constitution was to keep the federal government hands off of the free practice of state religion.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            You’ve unfortunately forgotten that it was you who said that anyone in favor of state imposed religion is against freedom of religion.

            And I told you, the state imposed religion is the ten commandments.

            The sole purpose of the 1st amendment to the US constitution was to prevent the federal government from imposing upon the religious freedom of the States.

            The powers of the states — but they no longer have that, since the 14th amendment and incorporation.

            And no, that wasn’t the only reason.

            You will note upon examination that the original state charters were predominantly founded upon the official Christian religion of the given state.

            I know that many states had official state religions at the time (which is another reason for the first amendment, since states had different official religions). I’ve written about it in past comments of mine.

            So the purpose of the 1st amendment to the US constitution was to keep the federal government hands off of the free practice of state religion.

            1) that wasn’t the only reason.
            2) states no longer have the power to have a state religion. If you want to argue about the constitution, you need to use the current one.

          • Ira Pistos

            While you are correct, it remains that the first amendment still says what it always has. Yes it has been circumvented and castrated but it means the same now as it always has.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            No, it’s been applied to state governments by the 14th amendment. I don’t want Boston to go back to hanging Quakers for being heretics.

          • Ira Pistos

            I appreciate your taking the time for our exchange.
            Take care.

  • Guzzman

    Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes. The Oklahoma Supreme Court already ruled that the Ten Commandments are religious in nature and posting them on government property serves a religious purpose and would therefore be unconstitutional.

    This new law (HB-2177) does not change anything by stating that the Ten Commandments are of historical significance. We all know that they are first and foremost religious in nature.

  • btolver

    Ten Commandments are great but the Oklahoma lawmakers would be better off displaying what is the requirement for salvation in this dispensation of grace and that’s found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4( Christ died for our sins and was dead, buried, and rose again). Also in Ephesian 2:8-9( by grace we are saved through faith and not of ourselves; it is the gift of god not of works lest any man should boost. The law does not save anyone but condemn. Nobody could keep the law so we rely on Christ finish work on the cross for salvation..Not our own righteousness but Christ righteousness.

    • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

      That doesn’t mean the law is cast out. It just means what once was a command is now a promise.

      • btolver

        Correct but i didn’t say it was cast out. The law is holy and perfect and we are imperfect. Christ fulfilled the whole law so we rely on his righteousness.

        • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          He is wonderful, isn’t He?

          • btolver

            Yes he is..he has saved my soul! glory to god!

          • Susan Perelka

            There is no sound sweeter, than the saints of God praising Him. Blessed be His Holy Name.

  • mikegillespie

    I wish Christians were as zealous as atheists.

    I seem to remember a line of poetry from Yeats:

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

  • Susan Perelka

    Abba Father, Let Your Holy Spirit use these displays to convict hearts of their sin. We have all sinned and fall short of Your glory. We have all failed to love You and to love our neighbors. Help the lost (those in darkness) to see this truth and then bring them the good news of Jesus Christ, the wonderful mercy You offer mankind. Thank You Lord for watching over Your Word to perform it. Thank You Lord for watching over Your people. Thank You Lord, for preventing the gates of hell from prevailing against Your church. Continue to sanctify Your people in Your truth, Your Word is truth. Keep us from the evil one and direct us on how to bring glory to Your Name. Bring us the provision we need every day in order to accomplish Your will. I ask this petition of You, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, our Messiah and Lord. AMEN

    • ♥LadyInChrist♥InGodITrust♥

      Amen

  • Herrnhut

    “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, where unto ye desire again to be in bondage?” Galatians 4:9 is your reminder that Christians who choose to turn back or be under the ten commandments would suffer the curses of the law like pagans.

    The word “weak” (ἀσθενῆ) is the same word of “sick” in the Gospels of Matthew. Mark, Luke by our LORD. The word “beggarly” (πτωχὰ) is the same word of “poor” of all 4 Gospels by our LORD. When He said I have paid for all your sins and given you freely His righteousness of God, and you dare to flip your hand at our Savior and snicker to work the obsolete law, then you are on your own with health and prosperity. I pray you don’t listen to all these men’s teach who makes Him look harsh like Moses did. Moses and Aaron died before the Canaan.