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Oklahoma Removes Ten Commandments Monument From The State Capitol

The Ten Commandments monument that used be at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki
The Ten Commandments monument that used be at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Under the cover of darkness and using a crane, workers removed a 6-foot granite structure from the grounds of the Capitol in Oklahoma City.

The Ten Commandments monument has been the subject of controversy and debate for years. Back in June, the state Supreme Court decided that the religious display on public property violated the Constitution.

At the time, angry lawmakers even threatened to impeach the high court justices.

But Monday night, the controversy came to a detente. The AP reports:

"The state is paying the contractor about $4,700 to remove the monument and take it to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs' offices a few blocks away, Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus said. ...

"Originally authorized by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009, the privately funded monument has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was erected in 2012, prompting a lawsuit from Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister from Norman who complained it violated the state constitution.

" 'Frankly, I'm glad we finally got the governor and attorney general to agree to let the monument be moved to private property, which is where I believe it's most appropriate,' Prescott said Monday. 'I'm not opposed to the Ten Commandments. The first sermon I ever preached was on the Ten Commandments. I'm just opposed to it being on public property.' "

The Daily Oklahoman reports that it cost about $5,000 to remove the monument.

The paper reports:

"The monument will be on loan to the OCPA, a public policy analysis organization, which will be responsible for any costs associated with it while it is on their property. It is being installed there with private funds."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.