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Oklahoma governor refuses to remove 10 Commandments monument from state capitol
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The struggle to keep church and state separate has extended to the Ten Commandments. - photo by Shelby Slade
The struggle to keep church and state separate has extended to the Ten Commandments.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has announced the state will not be removing a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state capitol despite being told to do so, Natalie Schachar reported for the Los Angeles Times.

Fallin said the Oklahoma state government is appealing a previous ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that said the monument broke laws against using state money for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, Schachar wrote.

The Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement that Oklahoma feels it has a case because of the history of the Ten Commandments.

"Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong," Pruitt said. "The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law."

On the opposite side of the argument is Brady Henderson, legal director of the Oklahoma American Civil Liberties Union.

"It's not about removing anything divine, it's about having a monument that specifically instructs citizens on what to believe or how to follow God," Henderson told the Schachar. "There are simple mentions of the word God, there are tribal flags and crosses on the Capitol grounds. This ruling doesnt affect those.

Even religious leaders are joining the conversation. Baptist minister Bruce Prescott said he feels the monument should be removed because of the appearance of bias it creates within Oklahoma.

"I'm not opposed to Ten Commandments monuments, Prescott told a reporter from Oklahomas local station KOCO. I'm just opposed to the placement on government property, because I think that the government needs to be neutral."

This isnt the first time the Ten Commandments monument has caused backlash and controversy.

The monument was purchased by State Rep. Mike Ritze and his family, which is why some say the monument is constitutional because Oklahoma didnt actually spend money on it.

After it was installed in 2012, many groups, including Hindus, Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, tried to get permission to install monuments representing their beliefs at the capitol, Randy Ellis reported for The Oklahoman.

The requests were placed on hold until after the courts had ruled on the legality of the Ten Commandments monument.

Karen Monahan, who has actively campaigned to keep the monument, told her grandson she was disappointed in the previous ruling, especially since Oklahoma is part of the Bible Belt, Ellis reported.

Well, a belt is used to hold things up. If the Bible Belt is shaken, then everything will fall apart, she said to Ellis.