Ten Commandments in Oklahoma Will Remain

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A monument of the Ten Commandments will remain on the grounds of the Oklahoma capitol, a judge ruled Friday, setting up a showdown at the state’s high court.
     Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince granted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission’s motion for summary judgment Friday morning. Dr. Bruce Prescott sued the commission in August 2013 with help from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
     The group said it would appeal the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
     “We respectfully disagree with the decision of the court,” legal director Brady Henderson said in a statement. “The plaintiffs in this case do not seek the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the State Capitol lawn because they find the text of the monument offensive, but rather because, like many Oklahomans, the Ten Commandments constitute a core part of their sincerely held religious beliefs and it is offensive to them that this sacred document has been hijacked by politicians.”
     The group’s executive director, Ryan Kiesel, said the monument “marginalizes” Oklahomans of other faiths and no faith “by sending a distinct message that they are less welcome” at the capitol.
     “We aim to ensure the freedom of future generations of Oklahomans to make their own decisions about faith remains intact and free from political interference,” Kiesel said in a statement. “We knew going into this case that it would ultimately be decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court and today’s decision places us one step closer to a resolution by the state’s highest court.”
     Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt applauded Prince’s ruling. He said the Ten Commandments can be displayed based on the “historical role the text” had in the founding of the country.
     “The U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional a nearly identical monument in Texas,” Pruitt said in a statement. “We were confident in the state’s case from the start and appreciate the court’s thoughtful consideration and ruling in the state’s favor.”
     Standing over 6 feet tall, the privately funded stone monument was installed in 2012 after state lawmakers authorized it three years earlier.
     A New York-based satanic group filed an application with the commission in January to erect a taller, 7-foot statue of a goat-headed and horned Satan on capitol grounds, arguing the Ten Commandments monument opened the door to their request.
     The design depicts Satan as Baphomet – a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a beard – sitting on a pentagram throne with two smiling children standing beside him.
     “The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond,” Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said at the time. “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”
     The commission still faces another lawsuit challenging the monument in federal court. New Jersey-based American Atheists sued in January, claiming violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment and the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.
     The plaintiff in the federal case claims the monument is “hurtful and exclusive,” so she stays away from it while at the capitol.

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