OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) The Republican Party of Oklahoma has offered a home to a Ten Commandments monument soon to be removed from Capitol grounds by court order, saying the teachings etched in stone are espoused by the party, officials said on Thursday.
A state judge in September gave Oklahoma until Oct. 12 to remove the 6-foot-tall monument, denying requests from the state’s Republican leadership to leave it in its current spot a few paces from the Capitol.
The interim chairwoman of the Oklahoma Republican Party has offered to display the monument outside Republican headquarters in Oklahoma City.
“It really defines us as a nation,” said Estela Hernandez “We really are a moral nation and, when we look at those laws that are enshrined in that monument, that’s what we follow today.”
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, which oversees art displays in public spaces, voted 7-1 to authorize the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to remove the monument. There has been no decision where to place it.
The stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, has prompted complaints it violated the U.S. Constitution’s provisions against government establishment of religion, as well as local laws.
In June, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the monument must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.
The decision prompted Republican lawmakers to say they would look at impeachment for the justices who made the decision.
Lawmakers have argued that the monument was not serving a religious purpose but was meant to mark a historical event.
That opened the door for other groups, including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to apply for permission to erect their own monuments on Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events.
(By Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City and Jon Herskovitz.)