Atheist organization seeks removal of Ten Commandments monument from Oklahoma Capitol grounds

A national atheist organization has filed a suit in Oklahoma City federal court challenging the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument on display at the state Capitol.
by Matt Dinger Published: January 15, 2014
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A national atheist organization has filed a federal lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma Capitol and seeking its removal.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Oklahoma City federal court, lists members of the State Capitol Preservation Commission as defendants.

The monument was installed in 2012 under legislation passed in 2009 and signed by Gov. Brad Henry.

The lawsuit was filed by American Atheists Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit organization, and two of its members, Oklahoma City resident Aimee Breeze and Wagoner County resident William Poire.

Breeze and Poire contend that the monument is an endorsement of religion by the state, and the presence of the monument discourages them from visiting the Capitol to exercise their constitutional rights because the display is contrary to their views.

Breeze, who is involved with several advocacy groups, regularly travels to the Capitol and attends legislative sessions.

“While at the state Capitol, she is confronted by the Ten Commandments display, which she views as hurtful and exclusive and therefore avoids the area of the Display while at the Capitol,” the complaint reads.

The complaint argues that the monument is an explicit endorsement of religion and also discriminates against the religious rights of others.

The lawsuit contends:

•  Commandments on the monument against graven images and against taking the Lord's name in vain violate free speech rights under the First Amendment.

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by Matt Dinger
Court Reporter
Matt Dinger was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked in OPUBCO's News and Information Center since 2006, and has been assigned to the breaking news desk since its formation in fall 2008. He specializes in crime and police reporting.
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