OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said on Tuesday she will keep a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds to allow lawmakers time to find ways to block a state Supreme Court decision ordering its removal.
“During this process, which will involve both legal appeals and potential legislative and constitutional changes, the Ten Commandments monument will remain on the Capitol grounds,” Fallin, a Republican, wrote in a statement.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last week the monument violates a state constitutional section that bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.
Lawmakers in the socially conservative state responded with threats to seek the impeachment of the justices and calls for legislation to alter the constitution to allow for its display.
The 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers, was installed in 2012, prompting complaints that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s provisions against government establishment of religion, as well as local laws.
“It is a privately funded tribute to historical events, not a taxpayer funded endorsement of any religion, as some have alleged,” Fallin said.
After the Ten Commandments monument went up, other groups including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, applied to erect their own monuments on Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events.
The Satanic Temple criticized Fallin for ignoring the state’s top court.
“Governor Falling’s statement is an open, flagrant expression of her intent to bypass and re-write state law at her convenience for the benefit of one ill-contrived petty act,” said Douglas Mesner, a top group official.