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Ten Commandments monument is installed at Oklahoma state Capitol

The Ten Commandments monument is near the north entrance of the Oklahoma state Capitol. Private money paid for the cost of the monument and developing its base.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: November 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

“One of the concerns of the Founders that they addressed through the First Amendment in the separation of church and state was that they wanted to ensure that all citizens regardless of their faith or no faith at all were equal in the eyes of the government.”

The monument cost about $10,000, and costs to pay for the materials of the base and other work was about another $10,000, Ritze said.

Other markers upheld

Wording on the monument is similar to markers in Texas and Utah that have withstood the scrutiny of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ritze said.

Those markers stood on the Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, and in a city park in Pleasant Grove, Utah, for decades before being challenged.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, a benevolent organization, donated both markers.

Ritze, elected last year to the Legislature, said Cecil B. DeMille, director of the 1956 film epic “The Ten Commandments,” gave money to the Fraternal Order of Eagles to fund monuments across the country depicting the commandments. Some of the film's main stars, such as Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, went to unveilings.

“Apparently they donated it, and it was never delivered or it was in storage some place,” he said.

After Ritze got elected in 2008, he contacted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission about the monument. He said its whereabouts never could be determined, so he had one made.

Different views

Ritze said the Liberty Legal Institute, which was involved in the defense of the Texas monument, would be available to help the state attorney general's office defend any legal challenge.

Ritze said the monument re-emphasizes the history and heritage of America's legal system. American laws came from English law, which is rooted in Mosaic Law; the history of some of America's law can be traced to the Ten Commandments, he said.

“It is a historical presentation of where we get our laws,” Ritze said.

Kiesel disagreed. “It's disingenuous for supporters of placing this monument out there to say that this is purely a historical nature,” he said. “For them to discount the religious and spiritual underpinnings of the Ten Commandments would be offensive to the many Oklahomans that include the Ten Commandments in their faith.”