Oklahoma voters are one step closer to deciding whether religious displays, like the Ten Commandments monument that stood on the Capitol grounds until last year, should be legal in the state.
You may recall that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 7-2 last year that the monument violated the state’s constitution. The justices were very blunt about it, too:
The text of Article 2, Section 5 [of the State Constitution]…:
“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”
The plain intent of Article 2, Section 5 is to ban State Government, its officials, and its subdivisions from using public money or property for the benefit of any religious purpose. Use of the words “no,” “ever,” and “any” reflects the broad and expansive reach of the ban.
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.
In short: What the hell were you all thinking putting this monument up in the first place?!
The response from elected officials, unfortunately, wasn’t to accept defeat and stop inserting Christian displays where they didn’t belong. Instead, they decided they would try to eliminate the part of the state constitution that the justices argued was the problem.
Gov. Mary Fallin completed the process last night by signing a proclamation putting the following question on November’s ballot:
This measure repeals Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution. This section prohibits the use of public monies or property for sectarian or religious purposes.
SHALL THE PROPOSAL BE APPROVED?
To be clear, even if voters said yes, paving the way for another Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds, the ACLU could file another lawsuit. A new Christian monument may not violate the Oklahoma constitution for much longer, but a stand-alone Ten Commandments display would still undoubtedly violate the U.S. Constitution. (The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue before.)
In addition, groups like the Satanic Temple would almost immediately file applications to place their own monuments in the same general location. It’s what they did in Oklahoma before, and it’s what they’re doing in Arkansas right now.
Oklahoma voters are essentially being asked to make a change to their state’s laws that would violate the U.S. Constitution. A “Yes” vote would mean wasting tax dollars on lawsuits they would surely lose. It’s irresponsible for the Republican led House and Senate along with Gov. Fallin to ask them to do that just to score some cheap political points.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)