The governor last week held a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 2177, which will allow the display of the Ten Commandments alongside other historically significant founding documents such as the U.S. or Oklahoma Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta or others in state buildings, public schools or on other public property.
The governor signed the bill into law in May, but held the ceremonial signing to allow myself and the bill’s other authors and co-authors to attend and celebrate this significant legislation. Also in attendance was noted historian and my friend David Barton, who helped with historical research and provided documents to support this measure. I also want to thank Sen. Mark Allen who co-authored this bill in the Senate. I greatly appreciate him working so hard to get the bill passed in the Senate. Frank Cargill, the superintendent of the Oklahoma Assemblies of God, was present as well.
This bill doesn’t mandate the display of the commandments; it simply allows them to be shown alongside other historically significant documents that helped form the basis of the United States of America’s civil and common laws.
It was a long fight to get this legislation passed and signed into law. I’m unsure why opponents fought so hard against this. Should we not teach our children in school that they should kill, steal or lie? Should it be against the law to teach them to obey their father and mother?
The facts are the Ten Commandments have been part of our nation since its inception. They are deeply imbedded in our national culture and a basis for our nation’s laws. The display of the commandments is both legal and historical. The commandments had as dramatic an impact on the founding of our nation as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights They have been displayed in U.S. institutions since the very founding of our nation.
For example, in 1776, immediately following the United States of America’s separation from Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were placed on a committee to design a seal for the new nation. Both separately proposed featuring Moses prominently in the symbol of the new nation.
The Ten Commandments is displayed in the U.S. Capitol, the National Archives, in the U.S. Supreme Court, in many state capitols and in scores of other Legislatures, courthouses and other public buildings across America.
Further, Americans from coast to coast recognize the important contributions made to our society by the Ten Commandments. This is not advocating for religion but rather recognizing a significant historical contribution for our nation.
The fact that some may not agree with all of the commandments does not mean they shouldn't be displayed, any more than the fact that not everyone agrees with all pf the protections granted by the Bill of Rights would prohibit its display.
Aside from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, it is difficult to argue there is any single work that has had a greater or more far-reaching impact on centuries of American life, law and culture than the Ten Commandments. For this reason alone, the Ten Commandments merit display.
I’m thankful this bill was signed in to law, and I’m thankful we can recognize the important historical significance the Ten Commandments have on our great nation and on the state of Oklahoma.
We must never forget the principles on which our nation was founded. Allowing the display of the Ten Commandments will help us remember.
John Bennett represents Oklahoma House District 2. He can be reached at (405) 557-7315 or John.Bennett@okhouse.gov.
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