Ten Commandments project on Oklahoma's state Capitol grounds moves forward

The State Capitol Preservation Commission approved materials to be used for a privately donated Ten Commandments monument, which will be placed on the north side of the Oklahoma state Capitol. The monument, the base and other work is being paid for by private donors.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: April 20, 2012
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Materials to be used for the base for a privately donated Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds were approved Thursday.

The State Capitol Preservation Commission approved using granite and concrete similar to the exterior of the Capitol as the base.

Duane Mass, the Capitol's architect and curator, said work could start on erecting the base later this year.

Private money also is being raised to pay for a walkway and other preparation work. The cost for the 12-by-12-foot base and other work is estimated at $13,000, he said.

The cost of the monument, about 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide, has been paid by the family of state Rep. Mike Ritze, who authored legislation in 2009 authorizing the monument on the Capitol grounds. The monument cost about $10,000.

The State Capitol Preservation Commission decided last year to place the monument on the north side of the Capitol.

Wording on the monument will be similar to markers in Texas and Utah that have withstood the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ritze said. In both cases, however, those markers had stood on the Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, or in a city park in Pleasant Grove, Utah, for decades before being challenged. The Fraternal Order of Eagles, a benevolent organization, donated both markers.

The measure that authorized the monument identifies the Liberty Legal Institute, which was involved in the defense of the Texas monument, as being available to help the state attorney general's office defend any legal challenge.

The Ten Commandants monument will be the first monument on the north side of the building. Plans for monuments and sculptures there have been in place for several years.