(Voice of the Persecuted) Background: State Rep. Mike Ritze sponsored a bill in 2009 to have a monument to the Ten Commandments installed at the Oklahoma State Capitol. His family supplied $10,000 to fund the monument, which was later installed in 2012.
In 2013, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments Monument saying the monument must be taken down to ensure that Oklahoma welcomed people of all faiths. In January 2014, another lawsuit was filed by Americans Atheists Inc. challenging the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol. Supporters argued that it did not violate the separation of church and state because, “the Ten Commandments are an important component of the foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Oklahoma.” In March 2015, the Western District of Oklahoma dismissed the lawsuit, which elated Rep. Ritze and he shared,
“I am very pleased that this case was dismissed, and that Oklahomans can continue to enjoy the monument and understand the Ten Commandments historical significance to our nation. I doubt that this is the last challenge we will face, but we will continue to fight to have the monument preserved at our state Capitol. I am also grateful for the diligent and dutiful efforts of our state Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his staff in defending our state against these challenges.”
In Oct. 2014, 29-year-old Michael Tate Reed Jr. from Roland was apprehended after he vandalized the monument with his car breaking it in pieces. Reports claim he explained to officials that he was told by the voices/devil in his head to urinate on the monument, commit other acts upon it, and to “smash it.” He told authorities that he was a Satanist. He also admitted that he was Bipolar and not taking his medication. Rep. Ritzke replaced the monument
But on Monday June 30, 2015, the state’s Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state Capitol must go. Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he believed the court “got it wrong” and filed a petition for rehearing in a move that at least delayed removal of the monument. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, said she would keep the monument in place while lawmakers sought a way to block the decision.
On July 27, 2015 the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied the request by the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission to rethink the court’s June 30 decision that the statue’s placement violates the state constitution’s ban on the use of state property for the benefit of religion. It rejected the attempt by the state to keep a Ten Commandments monument next to the Oklahoma Capitol.
Other groups including Satanists applied to erect their own monuments on the Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events. The Satanic Temple declared the court ruling for the removal of Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma capitol as a victory. The organization, which opposes religious displays on government land, had earlier applied to place their satanic goat-headed statue near the monument located on Capitol grounds, they were unsuccessful.
After failing to have it installed near the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, the organization was forced to ship the bronze Baphomet sculpture to Detroit for it’s public unveiling on Saturday. The monument was criticized by numerous local Christians, and many came out to pray and protest the anti-Christian group’s event.
The director of the Satanic Temple Detroit chapter, said they plan to ship the sculpture to Arkansas, where a law authorizing a Ten Commandments statue on capitol grounds was approved earlier in 2015.
A spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Fallin said the state has not received a final order to remove the monument, which would come from district court. The state is now reviewing it’s legal options for preserving the monument.