Okla. Governor Urged To Veto Commandments Bill

Americans United has advised Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry to veto a measure that would authorize a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol.

A final version of H.B. 1330 passed the House with a vote of 83-2 on May 7, after the Senate voted for it 37-9 on April 20.

Oklahoma legislators initially discussed the possibility that an “Oklahoma version” of the Decalogue would be displayed, but the law instead mandates a Protestant version. 

“The Ten Commandments are a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, but not for all Oklahomans,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The government cannot endorse one religious belief over others, nor can it prefer religion over non-religion. The legislature did exactly that when it approved this monument, and it’s begging for a legal challenge.

The proposed Oklahoma monument would be modeled after the Texas monument at issue in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Van Orden v. Perry, in which the court ruled the monument constitutional.

AU’s letter informed Gov. Henry that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Texas monument did not mean the Oklahoma law will withstand a legal fight.

In the Texas case, the monument had been in a park for 40 years with 17 other monuments and 21 historical markers. The high court rejected a Kentucky Commandments monument on the same day because it was not part of a comprehensive display.