Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Baptist, ACLU Force Ten Commandments Demo in Okla.

On June 30, 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma, and its lead plaintiff Rev. Bruce Prescott, that the Ten Commandments on display near the state Capitol since 2012 violates the state constitution.  Last week, District Judge Thomas Prince ordered the privately funded $10,000 monument, authorized by the Legislature in 2009, be removed by October 12.
"The Constitution forbids states from banning all religion from public spaces, and from making churches the ghettos of religion where all manifestations of faith are kept separate from public life."
-- Attorney General Scott Pruitt
For background, read Atheists' Oklahoma Lawsuit vs. Ten Commandments Tossed by Federal Judge and also read Satan on Throne at Oklahoma Capitol with ACLU Help

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

Federal Judge Allows Ten Commandments in Ohio Display

Ten Commandments Returns to Kentucky Courthouse after Appeal Win

Kentucky School Dumps Ten Commandments as Atheist Demand

Virginia School Compromises with ACLU for Ten Commandments Display

Pennsylvania Atheists Sue to Remove Ten Commandments from Church Land

-- From "Judge orders Ten Commandments monument removed" by Tim Talley, Associated Press 9/12/15

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state in 2013 on behalf of the Rev. Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister in Norman, and others who argued that the monument’s location violated the Oklahoma Constitution’s ban against using public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.”

Prince initially sided with the state, ruling last year that the privately funded monument could remain on the Capitol grounds. Pruitt’s office argued that the statue was permitted because of the historical significance of the text.

But in a 7-2 ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said the monument was a religious symbol and violated the state constitution. The high court reaffirmed its ruling in July, when it denied a rehearing sought by Pruitt’s office.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge gives Oklahoma a month to remove Ten Commandments from Capitol" by Heide Brandes, Reuters 9/11/15

District Judge Thomas Prince denied a motion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt to keep in place the monument that had been on Capitol grounds since 2012 and garnered strong support from Oklahoma's Republican leadership.

The decision prompted Republican lawmakers to say they will look at impeachment for the [Supreme Court] justices who made the decision and legal briefs from the attorney general's office to keep the monument in the shadow of the Statehouse.

Lawmakers have argued that the monument was not serving a religious purpose but was meant to mark a historical event.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge orders removal of Ten Commandments monument" by Bob Allen, Baptist News Global 9/15/15

Bruce Prescott, an ordained Baptist minister and former executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, sued the state in 2013 seeking removal of a 6-foot-tall stone monument authorized by state lawmakers in 2009.

On July 27 the high court denied a request for rehearing by Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Pruitt then filed a brief with Oklahoma County Judge Thomas Prince, asking the trial judge to consider if the state Supreme Court ruling "creates hostility toward religion that violates the U.S. Constitution."

The state Supreme Court refused to apply a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the placement of a similar monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, finding the issue lies with the Oklahoma constitution rather than the federal Bill of Rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that as a historical monument the Texas Ten Commandments display served a secular purpose. Prescott said in his lawsuit that as a Christian, he regards the Ten Commandments as religious doctrine and that attempts to co-opt them amounted to “a cheapening and denigration” of his faith.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Last Round in 10 Commandments Fight?" by David Lee, Courthouse News Service 9/14/15

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the privately funded monument violates the Oklahoma Constitution prohibition of using public money or property for any church, denomination, religious leader or sectarian institution.

"The issue in the case at hand is whether the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument violates the Oklahoma Constitution, not whether it violates the Establishment Clause," the per curiam opinion stated. "Our opinion rests solely on the Oklahoma Constitution with no regard for federal jurisprudence. As concerns the 'historic purpose' justification, the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths."

The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Attorney General Scott Pruitt's request for a rehearing on July 27.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Oklahoma judge orders Ten Commandments monument be removed from Capitol grounds in 30 days" by Kyle Schwab, The Oklahoman 9/11/15

The Capitol Preservation Commission has 30 days to remove the religious monument from the Capitol grounds.

District Judge Thomas Prince chose to follow the June 30 Oklahoma Supreme Court decision to remove the monument. The Supreme Court found the monument was a religious symbol and violated the state constitutional ban on using public property for “the benefit of any religious purpose.”

In a statement released after the ruling, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he wants voters to have the chance to “rectify this problem” by voting to remove the section from the state Constitution.

To read the entire article above (with links to the complete news saga), CLICK HERE.