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ACLU-OK plans to challenge 10 Commandments monument at State Capitol

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
This 10 Commandments monument was installed on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Nov. 2012.
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OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 6) - In a story by Darla Shelden at The City Sentinel headlined "ACLU stays active protecting the rights of Oklahomans," she notes a number of issues that the civil-liberties organization has or is looking at, from for-profit prisons to the bizarre "Personhood" movement, as well as privacy issues and 4th amendment concerns.

But one seemingly off-hand sentence really caught our attention: "This month ACLU-OK plans to file its case against the State of Oklahoma asking for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol."

Of course we here at Red Dirt Report reported on the placement of the Ten Commandments monument (briefly misspelled for a few days, as you may recall), a sectarian monolith "presented to the People of Oklahoma by Dr. Mike and Connie Ritze and children Amity, Heidi and Jamey."

Mike Ritze is, of course, State Rep. Mike Ritze, a Broken Arrow Republican and devout Christian who doesn't subscribe to the idea of the separation of church and state. We, the people of Oklahoma, were to be grateful for this

As we wrote last November: "It was in 2009 when Ritze introduced House Bill 1330 (the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act) and it received overwhelming support in the House and Senate. It was so that a monument displaying the Mosaic law of the ancient Ten Commandments could be displayed on the grounds of the Capitol."

Curiously there was little fanfare and even less protestation after the monument, originally designed by the crypto-Masonic Fraternal Order of Eagles, was installed on the Capitol grounds last autumn.

We spoke with ACLU Oklahoma's Executive Director Ryan Kiesel several times about the monument and we knew the local branch office was looking at its options and that pursuing these things takes time.

As Kiesel told Red Dirt Report: "The government shouldn't have anything to do with (religion)."

And yet Ritze and his fellow Christian Patriots want to force the religious issue on the rest of the state - regardless of their belief or non-belief - and ignoring "the real important issues facing Oklahomans," as Kiesel succinctly put it.

In the intervening months since then, Muldrow High School, in eastern Oklahoma, opted to pull down all the Ten Commandments plaques placed on classroom walls, rather than engage in what would likely be a lengthy and expensive court battle.

We have reached out to both Ritze and Kiesel and hope to have comments from them both in coming days.

Copyright 2013 Red Dirt Report

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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