Court: Oklahoma 10 Commandments Display Is Religious

Tuesday, June 9th 2009, 8:14 am
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

STIGLER, OK -- The battle over a Ten Commandments monument isn't over yet.  A group that's fighting to keep the monument on the Haskell County Courthouse lawn is considering what to do next after a big setback from 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Stigler, the county seat of Haskell County, a Ten Commandments monument is on display on the lawn of the county courthouse.

"I appreciate the fact that it's there, because it means something to me, you know," said monument supporter Mike Durant.

The privately-funded stone monument was erected in 2004.  Since then, it's been the subject of controversy, a fight that's made its way to a federal appeals court.

"I don't think it's pushing any particular doctrine or anything, and just look at our money, it says ‘In God We Trust,' are they going to try to take that away, too?" said supporter Mike Durant.

The appeals court ruled the monument is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, with the judges sending the case back to a district judge.

"When a nation forgets about the Ten Commandments, and forgets about God and would rather not have anything to do with God, then that nation will fall under the judgment of God," said supporter Wade Holsey.

While many people disagree with the appeals court ruling, there are some others in Haskell County who say it is the right decision.

"Religion people should just go ahead and take care of their own and take their monuments with them to their churches or to their cemeteries and leave all the other people alone," said Joy Jimmy Neal of Haskell County.

A faith advocacy group is fighting to keep the Ten Commandments monument at the courthouse.  The Alliance Defense Fund says the court got it completely wrong and that the monument is displayed alongside other monuments with historical significance.       

The group is considering filing a petition for a rehearing, which must be done within 14 days.

A businessman in Stigler says if Haskell County Commissioners are forced by the court to remove the monument, they can put it on his vacant lot across the street from the courthouse.