By order of Oklahoma Supreme Court, contractors remove Ten Commandments monument by night

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz)A Ten Commandants monument is seen in a fenced-off section of Oklahoma State Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 30, 2015. On the night of October 5, it was removed from the grounds.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Christian Examiner) – Beginning about 10:30 p.m.—well after dark—contractors began to move the monument bearing the Ten Commandments from its position outside the state Capitol to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs' offices, also downtown. The workers had security provided by the state highway patrol.

According to the Washington Times, John Estus, spokesperson for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said the monument was being moved at night so as not to disturb business at the Capitol and to avoid protestors.

"We wanted it to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and doing it at night gave us the best opportunity to do that," Estus said.

The monument, which weighs two tons, was being moved at a cost of about $4,700 because the state supreme court ruled its presence on government property violated the state's constitution that prohibits support of any church or religion in a ruling in June.

CONSTITUTION PROHIBITS RELIGIOUS ENDORSEMENT

Former state representative Mike Reynolds watched on Monday night as the monument he voted to install in 2009 and has stood outside the Capitol since 2012 was carried away.

"This is a historical event," Reynolds said. "Now we know we have to change the Constitution. It would be good to get rid of some of the Supreme Court justices, too."

The workmen were separated from the public by barriers and used cutting tools and a heavy crane to move the six-foot monument, the Daily Oklahoman reported.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who supports the presence of the monument, disagreed with the Okla. Supreme Court's ruling and said he supports an effort to have voters change the provision of the state constitution used to order the monument's removal, according to the local paper.

He previously filed a rehearing request pointing out other instances when religious symbols were allowed on government property in the state. The removal of the monument suggests that now a change to the state's constitution might indeed be the most effective recourse.

JUSTICES ACCUSED OF BULLYING

After a driver who was determined to have mental problems accidentally crashed into and destroyed the monument in 2014, state officials including Rep. Mike Ritze, arranged for its replacement.

Ritze's family was instrumental in funding the monument. He and many others have argued that the commandments are part of American culture rather than specifically Jewish or Christian.

The precedent viewing such a monument as historically significant has already been set by other states, including Texas, he pointed out, calling the ruling a "disappointment."

NewsOK reported a statement from Rep. Kevin Calvey castigating the justices and calling for their impeachment.

"Our state Supreme Court is playing politics by issuing rulings contrary to the constitution, and contrary to the will of the clear majority of Oklahoma voters," Calvey said.

Numerous other representatives signed Calvey's petition. "This ruling is the court engaging in judicial bullying of the people of Oklahoma, pure and simple," he said. "It is time that the people chose jurists."

The justices ruled 7-2 on the monument's removal.