Satanist, Hindus, PETA and others challenge Ten Commandment display

December 26, 2013

State Rep. Mike Ritze said Oklahoma doesn’t have to bend to the wishes of fringe groups that want to display messages on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol.

The New York-based Satanic Temple, a Hindu group from Nevada, PETA and others are pressing to get displays at the Capitol because Ritze paid personally to have a monument engraved with the Ten Commandments at the Capitol.

“The satanic statue issue has nothing to do with the current case about the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument,” said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. “The Oklahoma monument is constitutional.  It is an exact replica of the one that sits on the Texas State Capitol grounds that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005).   It would be bizarre if Texas can have its Ten Commandments monument but Oklahoma cannot.

“The State of Oklahoma, however, does not have to accept the donation of a satanic statue.   In Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460 (2009), a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that even though a city accepted privately donated monuments for permanent display such as the Ten Commandments, the city was not required to accept the Summum religious group’s Seven Aphorisms of Summum for display.

“It is extremely rare for all nine justices to agree on anything, however, they do agree that in situations such as this the government has discretion to choose which monuments it wants to accept.”

Ritze is a Broken Arrow physician.

Several Oklahoma lawmakers responded negatively to the request by a Satanic Temple to put a monument to Satan at the Capitol.

Some Hindus want to erect a statue of Lord Hanuman in Oklahoma State Capitol. Universal Society of Hinduism has planned to apply to Oklahoma State Capitol Preservation Commission for permission to place a statue in the statehouse grounds and hopes that Commission will approve it.

However, that commission has suspended applications in the wake of the controversy.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA), has said that if the Oklahoma State Capitol was open to different monuments, “we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman, who was greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredible strength and was a perfect grammarian.”

Faced with the same flurry of requests, officials in Tallahassee, Florida, have approved a Nativity scene, a Festivus pole and a chair holding fake pasta with eyeballs and an accompanying “provherb” from the (satirical) Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Florida said no to the satanists, calling their display “grossly offensive.” The display showed an angel falling from Heaven.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has requested a banner in Oklahoma suggesting that Oklahomans not eat meat.

In 2009, former Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill authorizing the display of the privately funded Ten Commandments at the Capitol. The Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU has sued to have it removed. The ACLU legal director claims that if the state allows one form of religious expression, it must allow every religion.