Published August 22, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit seeking to have a monument that bears the Ten Commandments removed from state Capitol grounds.
The Tulsa World reported that the civil liberties group filed suit in Oklahoma County District Court on Monday and names the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission as the defendant.
Republican Rep. Mike Ritze and his family paid nearly $10,000 to build and erect the 6-foot-tall granite monument authorized by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2009 and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister who said he was "highly offended" when he saw the monument during a visit to the Capitol last year, News9.com reported.
"It's inappropriate, it's not the right place," Prescott told the station. "Put it on the doorpost that's what the Bible says, it doesn't say to put it at the State Capitol."
Courts have ruled against many similar monuments, saying they could imply that the government is endorsing religion.
"This piece of public property, placed upon public property, conveys an explicit religious message that supports and endorses the faiths and creeds of some churches and sects," the suit states, according to the Tulsa World.
Ritze has argued that the monument was a historical document and not a religious symbol.
Brady Henderson, Legal Director with the Oklahoma ACLU, told News9.com that it may take several years for the courts to make a decision on whether the monument can stay.
"Our constitution makes it clear you cannot use state property and state resources to support a particular religion and this monument does just that," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.