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Religious Monuments and State Property

Very recently, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ruled that a privately funded monument featuring the Biblical ten commandments must be removed from the state capital grounds.

Good, and rightly so.

Religion has no place in government, and its monuments have no place on public property. Sure, the money was privately donated, but the property itself was public and tax-funded. This monument, along with any other religious monuments, belongs on private property.

For those of you claiming that the monument is historically significant, let’s be honest for a moment – do you care because it’s historically significant, or do you care because it represents your faith? I won’t argue that it’s not historically significant, but I will argue that it’s far more significant as a religious icon (they aren’t mutually exclusive). It clearly violates the separation of church and state (a separation many of you may not agree with, but which currently stands), and therefore, does not belong on public property. To be clear, I have no issue with the monument itself, only with its current location.

As per Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma State Constitution:

“No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

(paraphrased for this specific case: no public property shall be used for the benefit or support of any church or religion)

This decision was made by your state government, so, to those that railed against the same-sex marriage decision based on an erroneous violation of states’ rights, think about that before you claim a precedent set by another state (Texas) or call to have this appealed at a federal level.

In closing, let me speak directly to the monument’s supporters: In this country, you have every right to practice your religion, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others, and while I may not share your beliefs, I will always fight alongside you to protect that right. You do not have the right, however, to impose your religion on others through force, including through unconstitutional legislation. You cannot be in favor of true freedom, religious or otherwise, and also believe in a Christian Nation where your faith is law. That’s not freedom – that’s called theocracy, and if theocracy is what you desire, I urge you to pursue it through due process. However, under the current constitution, this country is a democratic republic, and religious legislation is unconstitutional, be it Biblical, Halakhah, Sharia, or otherwise. If freedom is truly what you want, make sure your words and actions are in line with that goal. If theocracy is what you want, be honest about it and call it by name.

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