House committee advances bill that would allow Ten Commandments in schools, public buildings - Politics - LakeExpo
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House committee advances bill that would allow Ten Commandments in schools, public buildings
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By Randy Krehbiel Tulsa World | Updated 20 hours ago
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the party affiliation of Rep. Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City. The corrected version appears here.
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Thou shalt not give up isn’t one of the Ten Commandments, but it is being rigorously observed by lawmakers intent on getting them into schools and other public buildings.
On Thursday, a committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives recommended passage of a bill authorizing the installation of “statues, monuments, memorials, tablets or any other display” of “historically significant documents,” including the Ten Commandments, in publicly owned buildings such as schools, courthouses, city halls and, presumably, the state Capitol.
House Bill 2177, by Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, also directs the state attorney general’s office to prepare a legal defense of the measure should it become law.
The bill passed the House General Government, Oversight and Accountability by a vote of 7-1, with Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, the lone dissenter.
HB 2177 lists other examples of “historically significant documents,” including the state and U.S. constitutions, the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta.
In presenting the bill, though, Bennett made it clear his primary interest is the Ten Commandments, saying they have “impacted American law and culture with a force similar only to that of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Edmond, said it is unlikely the law could be used to erect a monument to “Satanism” because “I don’t think our country was founded on Satanism.”
Similarly, Calvey said, the Koran need not be included because, he said, Islam did not play a significant role in the founding of America.
Asked by Rep. Roger Ford, R-Midwest City, about the cost of defending such a law, Bennett said the attorney general’s office “already (has) people on staff, so it wouldn’t really cost the state anything.” And there are outside groups that could get involved.
“If we didn’t pass laws because we were afraid we’d be sued, we probably wouldn’t pass any laws,” Bennett said.
Bennett did not respond to a request for further comment Thursday afternoon.
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