In defense of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol, the attorney general's office stated that it is the first in a series of planned statues.
However, Capitol Preservation Commission Chairman Trait Thompson said there are no current plans for such a grouping.
Paul Meyer, former Capitol architect and longtime member of the commission, also said such a monument park has been in the realm of a wish list.
“It was intended to have monuments all around,” Meyer said. “Now, monuments, but not religious monuments per se.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Ten Commandments monument, alleging it is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court found in a Texas case that a similar monument was constitutional because it had stood for decades without being challenged and that its inclusion in a series of monuments gave it a historical context rather than a religious one.
Oklahoma's monument was placed on the north side of the Capitol in 2012.
It was paid for with $10,000 donated by Rep. Mike Ritze and his family, and $10,000 raised privately.
Brady Henderson, legal director for the Oklahoma ACLU, said its placement on public property violates a section of the state constitution that states:
“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 ...”
In a brief filed Sept. 13, the state said plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the monument are not proper parties to bring suit. It also identified the location of the monument as the beginning phase of a park in which additional monuments would be added.
The attorney general's office declined further comment for this story.
Henderson disputed the notion that the monument will be joined by other statues.
“Right now at the Capitol for instance, we're just trying to address sewage backing up in the basement,” Henderson said. “I don't anticipate that anyone is going to fund a big monument park anytime soon.”
Bruce Prescott, of Tulsa, one of the four plaintiffs in the case, said he takes issue with the monument even if it is joined by other nonreligious statues.
“The biggest problem is the government doesn't have any business trying to find a way to endorse religions,” he said.