The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

December 9, 2013

Oklahoma leaders say satanic monument unlikely

OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislative leaders in Oklahoma sought to ease public concern Monday over a plan by a group of satanists to erect a monument at the state Capitol.

Both House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman suggested that such a plan was far from a reality, and members of the committee that would need to approve the monument sounded skeptical. But a constitutional law professor says the state could be on legally questionable ground if it rejects the New York-based Satanic Temple’s request to put an homage to Satan near a Ten Commandments monument that’s already at the Capitol.

The Associated Press reported Sunday about the Satanic Temple’s plans to donate such a memorial. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission would have to approve such plans.

“That’s Oklahoma’s house. It’s not the Satanic club of New York’s house,” said Capitol architect Duane Mass, who serves on the commission.

Officials with Satanic Temple suggest that Oklahoma opened the door to other religions when it allowed the Ten Commandments monument, with a sectarian message, to be placed at the Capitol.

“The whole point is that we’re a religiously pluralistic society, so if there’s going to be one, there will be others, or at least we’ll make the effort for such,” said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple. “Or there will be neither. Those are the only real options.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009 authorized the placement of the privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, and former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law. It was placed on the north steps of the building last year, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

At Big Truck Tacos, a restaurant about a mile from the Capitol, 26-year-old Matthew Burrell questioned what the satanists had done to deserve a monument.

“Monuments are built in response to something great being done,” Burrell said. “What have satanists given to society that actually benefits the city or the state?”

Bingman suggested the idea sounded like a “political stunt,” while Shannon spokesman Joe Griffin said the Capitol was not an appropriate place for such a monument.

“Anything displayed at the Capitol should be a representation of the values of Oklahomans and this nation,” Griffin said. “The left-hand path philosophies of this organization do not align with the values of Oklahomans nor the ideals this country or its laws are founded upon.”

But Joseph Thai, a constitutional law professor at the University of Oklahoma, said the decision to place the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol could put the state in a difficult position.

“The state can disown the Ten Commandments monument erected at the Capitol with private funds as private speech, but then it cannot reject other privately donated religious monuments — even a satanic one — on the basis of viewpoint,” Thai said.

Or the state could decide to exclude other religious monuments by taking ownership of the Ten Commandments monument as official state speech, but Thai said that could become legally problematic because of the sectarian message on the granite statute.

“The Legislature has put the state between a rock and a hard place, constitutionally speaking,” Thai said.

1
Text Only
National and world
  • Economic Recovery web.jpg U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier

    • Inflation is under control. Runaway price increases would be destructive. Low inflation can lay a foundation for growth.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast web.jpg Casualty numbers raise questions about Gaza war

    A Palestinian health official put the death toll at 695 and said more than 4,100 were wounded, with civilian casualties rising sharply since Israel sent tanks and troops into Gaza last week in its first ground operation in five years.
    Israel has not offered its own count, but Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said Wednesday that 210 Gaza militants were killed since the ground operation began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Train Fires web.jpg Stopping deadly oil train fires: New rules planned

    Accident investigators have complained for decades that older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents when derailed. Since 2008, there have been 10 significant derailments in the U.S. and Canada in which crude oil has spilled from ruptured tank cars, often igniting and resulting in huge fireballs. The worst was a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic a year ago, killing 47 people.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Taiwan Plane Crash web.jpg Relatives fly to Taiwan plane crash site, 48 dead

    Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday, authorities said. The plane was on a flight from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona Execution web.jpg Arizona inmate dies 2 hours after execution began

    Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flights Canceled Israel web.jpg Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health overhaul web.jpg Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

    But the split rulings don’t necessarily mean another trip to the Supreme Court for the Affordable Care Act.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senate Georgia web.jpg Perdue defeats Kingston in Georgia Senate runoff

    Tuesday night’s primary runoff win validates Perdue’s campaign as an outsider.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ODD Brooklyn Bridge M_Hass.jpg Police probing switch of flags on Brooklyn Bridge

    Video footage of the security breach shows the unidentified people walking on the bridge's footpath at about 3:10 a.m., and 20 minutes later the light on the bridge's Brooklyn tower flickers and goes dark. The same thing happens about 12 minutes later on the Manhattan tower.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veterans Health_Hass.jpg Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

    Robert McDonald cited problems with patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity, among other issues, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over his nomination today.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

Featured Ads