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Oklahoma county revisits plan for a Ten Commandment monument

Oklahoma county revisits plan for a Ten Commandment monument

The placement of a Ten Commandments monument on LeFlore County, Oklahoma, courthouse property is being revisited by county commissioners.

Tulsa World reports that Charlie Horsley asked county commissioners on November 5th to reconsider a proposal by former Poteau city Mayor Don Barnes for the placement of the monument. Barnes had spent years trying to get the monument approved.

Lance Smith and Ceb Scott, both county commissioners, had tabled the request because another commissioner, Derwin Gist, was not present. Smith also stated he wanted to talk to the District Attorney, as well. County Clerk Kelli Ford said the request will be brought before the board at a later date.

The request for the monument was initially approved in April of 2009, but the ruling of a federal appeals court that a similar monument in neighboring Haskell county was a violation of the separation clause of the First Amendment caused the LeFlore commissioners to scrap the idea.

Those supporting the LeFlore County monument being placed in the courthouse are citing the fact that although the Haskell monument is now sitting in a museum, it is still on county property, without any objection from Haskell county citizens or anyone else.

It was the 2004 battle between the ACLU and Haskell County that brought national attention to the LeFlore County monument, which was purchased by monies raised by the Poteau Chamber of Commerce and former Mayor Don Barnes.

The result was the dedication of the monument at the Community State Bank in 2010. At the request of the Federal Reserve Bank, Community State Bank removed the monument, citing a violation of banking regulations. The monument is currently sitting near a restaurant on a plot of land deeded to Poteau's Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary Unit 63.

LeFlore county commissioners plan to move the monument to the courthouse if the request is approved. If the monument cannot be moved, donations will be secured to procure another one. LeFlore county has a Ten Commandments sign in every town within its borders.

Charley Horsely, the commander of the Poteau Disabled American Veterans unit, and the individual who has made the latest request for the monument's placement on the courthouse, stated,

"We do believe that the founding fathers used God's law to help prepare some of the laws we have today. That's all part of our laws. It's all part of us today."

If approved, and the monument is either moved or a new monument erected at the courthouse, civil rights activists have promised to work for it's removal.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
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