OKLAHOMA CITY (Christian Examiner) – Less than a month after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the midnight removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the state's capitol, a group of Christian cowboys is riding from Texas to the capital city with their own version of a monument to God's law.
KSWO, the local ABC affiliate in Lawton, reported Oct. 21 that Texas pastor John Riggs, who leads the Texoma Cowboy Church in Wichita Falls, is riding 100 miles from the cowboy church he pastors to the Oklahoma capital. Once there, he said he plans to give a small granite tablet featuring the commandments to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Fallin resisted calls for the removal of the Ten Commandments monument in June and July when a Baptist minister filed a formal complaint calling the monument a violation of the separation of church and state. Whether it is or not largely depends on where and when the monument is placed.
Older monuments, donated with private funds, are generally considered acceptable (as in Austin, Texas, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a monument there had a historical value and purpose and could remain). Newer monuments are trickier because they are generally seen as a new promotion of a particular religion.
Shortly after the court ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments monument, Fallin began looking for ways to return it. She has called on legislators to see what role they can play.
Ironically, the stone tablet the cowboys are bringing will be the third monument. The first, built by a Christian family and installed with private funds, was knocked over when a declared Satanist rammed it with his car. The second faced repeated legal challenges until it was finally removed.
"For me personally, my heart is just broken over the state of our country and the direction it's going," Riggs told KSWO. "They are historical in our country, in our nation, and critical for our nation to stay and move and function as people."
Riggs says he believes the Decalogue should still be represented on state grounds. After all, he said, they were the values on which the country was founded.
The idea for the ride came about Sunday afternoon during church services. Riggs said he told his congregation what he was planning to do, and not long after he had several other church members who either volunteered to ride with him or serve as support. The group left the church early Tuesday morning with the monument in hand and the cowboys tall in the saddle.
"We've really got to take action now. For me, my faith in God is everything to me," Riggs said.
Riggs told news sources he understands not everyone believes in God and that is why he is a proponent of religious liberty. He even said he praises people who stand up for their beliefs, even if they aren't Christian. But riding on a horses is meant to communicate a deeper spiritual truth, he said.
"We're going back to the grassroots, because it's not easy, but we want people to know we need to go back and not forward. Go back to things we've left behind, which is primarily one nation under God," he told the news station.
"I want my kids to grow up in an America that glorifies and honors God, not something that is way out in left field that we can't recognize this country," he said.
If all goes as planned, Riggs and his posse should arrive at the Oklahoma state capitol on Friday afternoon and present the Ten Commandments carving to Gov. Fallin, though heavy rains may slow the pace of the ride.
Riggs told the Times Record News in Wichita Falls he never expected "to have to defend our Christianity, especially here in the Heartland."
He hopes the ride will draw attention to America's downhill slide, he said.
"It's imperative in society that we understand God's law supersedes all man law," Riggs said. "The freedoms that are important — free speech — don't think for a moment we won't lose them when a nation turns its back on God."
One of the church members accompanying Riggs on the ride told an Oklahoma newspaper that the pastor had not asked for company on the ride, and that they didn't ask permission to ride with him.
"He didn't ask any of us to come with him; we volunteered," Robert Holman, a member of the Texoma Cowboy Church said.