The devout right-wing fundamentalist Christian folks of Oklahoma – long described as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” – had a rude awakening yesterday. The Sooner State’s Supreme Court ruled that a monument in tribute of the Ten Commandments at the State Capitol must be removed. According to the Court’s ruling, the Oklahoma State Constitution makes it illegal to use public funds for “religious purposes.”
The Ten Commandments Monument was erected in 2012. The bill authorizing its construction was introduced by state representative Mike Ritze, whose family contributed $10,000 for the project. Not long after that, several other religious groups – among them, Hindus, Satanists, animists and others were demanding equal representation of their beliefs. Obviously, that didn’t sit well with the good Christians of Oklahoma, who – like 17th Century Puritans – embrace “freedom of religion” for themselves while denying it to everyone else.
The ACLU finally filed the lawsuit that was decided in a 7 to 2 ruling on June 30th. In an echo of other conservative reactions to recent US Supreme Court decisions, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that the Court “got it wrong,” adding that the state justices “completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law.”
Actually, Commandments 4 – 6, governing humans’ relationships with each other, are pretty universal. Be that as it may, Oklahoma’s conservative Christians need to realize that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. As former talk-show host Randi Rhoades often pointed out, the Separation Clause protects both Church and State. The State must either openly support all faiths (reportedly, even Genghis Khan allowed and encouraged all forms of religion in his empire), or none of them.
In the meantime, Oklahoma AG Pruitt will be asking the Court to re-hear the case. He is suggesting to lawmakers that the provision in the state constitution upon which the ruling was made be repealed.
Maybe if they’d just let the Satanists put up their statue of Baphomet on the capitol grounds, the whole controversy might have been avoided…