MCALESTER (AP) — An Oklahoma county has denied a man’s request to build a Ten Commandments statue outside the local courthouse.
Contractor Tim Mitchell requested to place the religious statue outside the Pittsburg County Courthouse during a meeting on Monday of county commissioners, the McAlester News-Capital reported. He also told commissioners he would fund the statue’s construction.
District Attorney Chuck Sullivan told Mitchell and commissioners that the Oklahoma Constitution bars public money or property from being used to support or benefit “directly or indirectly” any sect, church denomination or system of religion. Sullivan also noted past state Supreme Court rulings.
Voters declined to change the law in 2016, which would’ve allowed state money and property to be used for religious purposes. Nearly 60 percent of voters were against amending the Oklahoma Constitution to make the change.
Mitchell asked the district attorney for suggestions for buying property for the monument, but Sullivan said he couldn’t give him legal advice. Sullivan suggested he get advice from an outside attorney.
Mitchell said he plans to continue to search for alternatives to create the statue, including purchasing property for the county. He said other options could result in a monument on some nearby property.
“I was told by God to do it two years ago,” Mitchell said. “He’s really telling me to do it now.”