POLITICS

Oklahoma Supreme Court Orders Removal Of Ten Commandments Monument From State Capitol

Workers build scaffolding at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Assessments and test phases of exte
Workers build scaffolding at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 11, 2015. Assessments and test phases of exterior repair are beginning on the nearly 100-year-old building. The Oklahoma Legislature approved a $120 million bond issue last year to pay for renovations to the building. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

OKLAHOMA CITY, June 30 (Reuters) - The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a Ten Commandments monument placed on State Capitol grounds must be removed because the Oklahoma Constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

The 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter) stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, 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.

In a 7-2 decision, the court said the placement of the monument violated a section in the state's constitution, which says no public money or property can be used either directly or indirectly for the "benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion."

Lawmakers have argued that the monument was not serving a religious purpose but was meant to mark a historical event.

This opened the door for other groups, including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to apply for permission to erect their own monuments on Capitol grounds to mark what they say are historical events.

In March, a U.S. judge dismissed a case filed by an atheist group that was seeking to remove the monument from State Capitol grounds, saying the plaintiffs failed to show standing to bring the suit. (Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)

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