July/August 2018 Church & State Magazine - July/August 2018

Oklahoma Gov. Signs Ten Commandments Bill

  Rokia Hassanein

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has signed a bill that authorizes every government building and public school to display the Ten Commandments.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed the legislation, House Bill 2177, in April, and Fallin signed it in May. Americans United sent a letter to Fallin reminding her that such displays violate the state constitution.

In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a Ten Commandments display that had been placed on the state capitol grounds, ruling that it violated Article II, Section 5 of the state constitution. That document says the state government cannot use public money or property for any religious purpose, and the court noted that “the Ten Commandments are obviously religious in nature.”

In response to the decision, the legislature placed a referendum on the 2016 ballot that would have stripped that section from the constitution. On election day, 57 percent of voters rejected the proposed amendment.

“Posting the Ten Commandments on public property and in public schools violates the Oklahoma Consti­tu­tion, has been rejected by Oklahoma voters, is divisive, and is harmful to religion,” AU’s letter stated.

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