Oklahoma Supreme Court Orders Removal of Ten Commandments Monument from the State Capitol Grounds

June 30, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled today that the state’s display of a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn violates the Oklahoma Constitution and must be removed. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on the Freedom of Religion and Belief and the ACLU of Oklahoma on behalf of a local Baptist minister and several other citizens.

Legislators authorized the monument in 2009, and it was installed in late 2012 on the north side of the Capitol grounds—a location the Capitol’s architect had deemed suitable for “reflection” on the religious dictates of the Ten Commandments.

Arguing that the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits the use of public property or money for religious purposes, the ACLU filed suit in 2013.  The Rev. Bruce Prescott, lead plaintiff in Prescott et al. v. Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, was pleased by the decision: “Religious people should rejoice that despite the state’s argument to the contrary, the Court made clear that the Ten Commandments Monument is obviously religious in nature, and not merely a secular historical artifact.”

The ACLU has issued additional statements from attorneys on the case:

The following may be attributed to Daniel Mach, Director, ACLU Program on the Freedom of Religion and Belief:

This decision is a win for religious liberty. It’s an important reminder that the state simply has no business telling its citizens how to worship or what to believe. 

The following may be attributed to Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director:

The framers of Oklahoma’s Constitution, like the founders of our country, understood that our religious choices are ours to make, not the government’s. The placement of the Ten Commandments Monument at the Capitol created a divisive and hostile Oklahoma, sending a message that some religious beliefs are more valued than others. Today’s decision is a victory for all Oklahomans who value the simple freedom to come to their own conclusions about matters of conscience. The Court’s ruling affirms the time-honored idea that my faith is a relationship between me and God, not me, God, and my local government.

More information about this case is available at:
https://www.aclu.org/cases/religious-freedom/prescott-v-oklahoma-capitol-preservation-commission

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