What is it with Oklahoma legislators and their obsession with the Ten Commandments?
After a years-long battle — which they lost — over a monument outside the Capitol building, State Rep. John Bennett has now proposed House Bill 2177, which would allow the posting of the Commandments in all public buildings including courthouses and public schools.
While the bill talks broadly about posting “historically significant documents,” there’s no doubt that’s just a cover for the Decalogue.
In presenting the bill… Bennett made it clear his primary interest is the Ten Commandments, saying they have “impacted American law and culture with a force similar only to that of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
I’m not sure how rules about worshiping only one specific God, false idols, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and taking the Lord’s name in vain have anything to do with our law… but maybe that’s because I’ve actually read the First Amendment. It’s also legal (even if it’s not ethical) to commit adultery, lie, and covet. So it’s just not true that we based our laws on the Ten Commandments.
Bennett is so aware that what he’s doing is wrong that the bill also includes a passage authorizing the Attorney General to defend it using taxpayer money.
… the Oklahoma Attorney General is authorized to prepare and present a legal defense of the display.
Bills that don’t break the law don’t need that provision.
Are Islamic or Satanic displays allowed to be included in the mix? Not at all, said another Republican legislator:
Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Edmond, said it is unlikely the law could be used to erect a monument to “Satanism” because “I don’t think our country was founded on Satanism.”
Similarly, Calvey said, the Koran need not be included because, he said, Islam did not play a significant role in the founding of America.
Isn’t that convenient…? For what it’s worth, The Satanic Temple’s Seven Fundamental Tenets have more overlap with the Constitution than just about everything in the Ten Commandments.
The bill has already passed through the House General Government, Oversight and Accountability committee on a 7-1 vote. Will anything stop it at this point? Probably not. Oklahoma is a state where Republicans control the legislature and Governor’s mansion, so don’t count on any of them to do the right thing on this issue.
The intent of this legislation is to promote Christianity within legal boundaries — and if that means putting a display of the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights nearby, Christians will take it. They just won’t allow any other religious or non-religious group to do the same.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Emma for the link)