Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ACLU Files Suit Against Oklahoma Ten Commandments Monument

The Tulsa World is breaking the story about the lawsuit against placing the Ten Commandments Monument on the grounds at the State Capitol in Oklahoma. 

 I am the lead plaintiff. Jim Huff, another Mainstream Baptist, is also a plaintiff. 

 The suit was filed yesterday by the ACLU. The ACLU will issue a press release later today.   Link to the full text of Prescott vs. The Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission.

 Here is the text of the complaint I filed last year with Ryan Kiesel and the Oklahoma office of the ACLU about the Ten Commandments monument:

 Dear Ryan,

 This correspondence is to let you know that I have been to the Oklahoma State Capitol and have discovered that it is virtually impossible to use the stairs on the Northeast corner of the building without being forced to view the highly offensive Ten Commandments monument that was recently erected on the Capitol grounds.

 I frequently visit the State Capitol to discuss pending legislation for a variety of causes.

For example, I am on the board for Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE). I visited the Capitol at least three times this year to address state legislators about legislation effecting science education.

 I also am a member of the impact committee for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches. We monitor legislation that would have an effect on five areas of concern to Conference Churches -- criminal justice, education, environment, immigration and poverty. I participated in the OCC annual day at the legislature and visited the Capitol more than three times this year to address state legislators about legislation effecting these concerns.

 I am also a member of the Sierra Club. I participated in their day at the legislature this year and on at least two occasions addressed state legislators about legislation that would have an impact on the environment.

 I am also a member of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. I participated in a rally to oppose the personhood amendment and spoke to state legislators about this legislation on at least two occasions this year.

 All of the above activities were outside responsibilities regarding legislation that are part of my job as Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists.

 In regard to my official duties with Mainstream Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant movement, I visited the State Capitol on three occasions to discuss statewide opposition to payday lending among Baptists involved with the New Baptist Covenant movement and discussed the possibility that legislation be sponsored that would put a cap on the amount of interest that payday lenders can charge in this state.

 As these examples indicate, I have been a frequent visitor to the Oklahoma State Capitol. That is why I urge you to take some action to address constitutional concerns about the Ten Commandments monument that has been erected on the Capitol grounds.  That monument is an affront to every person who affirms that the U.S. Constitution's first amendment prohibits the government from establishing religion.

 I am a Baptist minister. I am not opposed to the ten commandments. In fact, I exhort people to obey them. I am not opposed to monuments to the ten commandments that are placed on private property and/or on the grounds of religious institutions. I am opposed to erecting ten commandments monuments on public property and particularly on the grounds of the State Capitol where people of different faiths and of no faith go to exercise their rights as citizens.

Baptists in the revolutionary era were instrumental in supporting the passage of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those Baptists, my spiritual ancestors, were determined to insure that every citizen had "liberty of conscience," i.e., the freedom to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their own conscience. That is why they were adamant in denying support for the Constitution until it separated church and state and protected the equal rights of citizenship for all religious minorities. That is a legacy of which Mainstream Baptists are most proud in our religious tradition. And that is why we find the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol so offensive. In effect, it sends a signal that certain faith traditions are endorsed and sanctioned by the government while those who adhere to other faith traditions are second class citizens in their own society.

 I do hope you will take action to challenge the constitutionality of this Ten Commandments monument.

 Be assured that the Mainstream Oklahoma Baptist organization and I will do everything possible to assist you in such efforts.

 Sincerely, Rev. Bruce Prescott, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists

22 comments:

Lee Kozsey - Tulsa said...

Never in a million years would I have thought that a minister would be leading this suit but I now understand what Jesus was talking about. It is quite easy to see what this is really all about and it isn't the monument.

Thanks for showing yourself to me.

I personally do not care one way or the other on this issue. I already know my destiny.

Lee Kozsey - Tulsa

Jim said...

It is with a sad heart that I see a person who claims to be 'christian' opposing the Ten Commandments and calls them 'highly offensive'.

Bruce, I will pray for you. Somehow you have been greatly deceived. If the Ten Commandments are offensive, then which one, or ones, are offensive? Do you disagree with God? If so, then you must be on Satan's side.

God help you wake up.

Jim Guess
Claremore, OK

Bruce Prescott said...

Jim, I appreciate your prayers. I will pray for you.

You need to realize that I said a whole lot more to the reporter than what was put on the air.

The blog above indicates that I am not offended by the ten commandments. I said:

"I am a Baptist minister. I am not opposed to the ten commandments. In fact, I exhort people to obey them. I am not opposed to monuments to the ten commandments that are placed on private property and/or on the grounds of religious institutions. I am opposed to erecting ten commandments monuments on public property and particularly on the grounds of the State Capitol where people of different faiths and of no faith go to exercise their rights as citizens."

I will pray that God will open your mind to the truth about the issues at stake when a granite monument is substituted for genuine Christlikeness.

Daniel Brock said...

You are a disgrace. The Lord spoke of you in 2 Timothy 4:3

Jerey gillotte said...

You disgust me. Your not a minister, your not a man of God. Your a attention getter. YOu need to step down as minister of wherever you preach if you do . And anyone that supports you from this point on should be ashamed. I think I will file a suit against you for being a PHONY! How do you sleep at night? Your an embarrassment to every Christian. I will continue to disgrace you like you have the Church.

Jerey gillotte said...

You disgust me! How do you sleep at night old man. Your a disgrace to every Christian on this planet. You need to step down from what ever position you hold and I might start a fight to just do that. You think that what your doing is to get you some type of notice cause your a attention seeker. But what you are is the Devil in sheeps clothing.

setnaffa said...

Romans 10:17 (NIV) states: "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ."

Apparently, you believe the Word should be hidden from those who are lost. Your other activities mark you as well.

You might want to reread 1 Corinthians 16:22 and Galatians 1:8-9...

KevinK said...

Dear Sir: It is very sad that you do not understand the intent of the founders with regard to separation of church and state. It was not that there could be no expression of religion in government, but that all religions be allowed expression, and the state not sanction any particular one. Rather than having the monument to the Ten Commandments, you should be encouraging others to place their own monument alongside it. That would be freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

I would think that in your position you would be more informed about the intent and design of the founders, and the fact that they felt guided by a higher power when this country was founded.

Further, as a "minister", is it not our duty to spread the word? I can almost understand a position where you say nothing about this situation. I cannot understand how you support the removal.

You, sir, will be in my prayers.

Kevin Kelly-NY

Bruce Prescott said...

Kevin,

Here's a link that will inform you about what the founders intended:

http://www.auok.org/special_issue.htm

Ralph and Donna said...

Hello Bruce, It is easy to be deceived. We have the adversary (satan) lurking around our thoughts and interfering with our motivations. I would ask that you would review some of your writings and see how many times you make use of the pronoun "I". This could possibly be a giveaway as to how much you are being (in my opinion) deceived. In our lives; our motivations, desires, hopes and aspirations should be all about God and others, not about ourselves.
God Bless,
Ralph

Lee Bailey said...

We are admonished by our Lord to be light and salt to the world, and that includes in the public square (Matt. 5:13-16). Jesus Himself said we are not to hide that light under a bushel, but we are to let the light of the gospel shine everywhere we go, so that God's Word can be displayed to everyone everywhere. As one who (I would assume) proudly calls himself one of the "moderate" Baptists, you also likely stand in support of abortion rights (although you would quaintly call it "reproductive health care for women,") same-sex "marriage," (although you likely would call that "marriage equality") and you quite likely don't believe God's Word is inerrant, but rather prefer the term "authoritative" when speaking of Scripture. If, as you and others like you believe that Scripture contains error, then I would submit that you might as well throw it in the sewer along with every other false prophecy presented down through the ages...for who...you???...is going to designate which verse(s) are the ones that we should disregard as errant?? I believe you are sincere in your beliefs, but you are sincerely wrong...anyone who claims the name of Christ would be happy, not horribly disturbed to see the Ten Commandments on display anywhere, whether publicly or privately, Mr. Prescott. God bless you and may He help you see the error of your way before it's too late!

Christianity said...

You sir are an embarrassment to all of Christianity. People sin and fall into sin because of their flesh. You sir have no excuse for such a stupid move. Apostate Christianity at its best. You will be the laughing stock of Chrsitians and Atheist who will use you as an example.

I am a Pastor in Phoenix with a large congregation and connection to other Pastors. You have no excuse for such actions. REPENT OF THIS SIN.

Emanmacs said...

Too bad. You are doing a great disservice to Christianity and our country.

I would suggest that you take some time to read the actual writings of our founding fathers rather than reading someone's opinion of what they meant. Using your reasoning we should remove crosses from the headstones at military cemeteries since they are on public property and visitors to the cemetary will be "forced to look at them". I'm sure your ACLU buddies will help you file that suit as well.

rkaraff said...

What a stupendous study in human psychology *this* is turning out to be. Props to Dr. Prescott for his patience and willingness to listen. The comments on his blog are a monument to the sad state of delusion from which so many of our religious brethren suffer. Threats of physical violence, threats of eternal damnation, even threats of "praying for you"...these are the common themes amongst the comments of the so-called "God's Chosen People".

Christ-like? Not even close. Although, when one bother's to read one's Holy Texts, one might come to a different, and better informed, conclusion.
Jesus says quite clearly in Matthew 10:34 - "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Perhaps, therefore, it is appropriate for a believer to issues threats of violence against a fellow human; after all:

"go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend. Do it in the name of heaven, you can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing, Come the judgement day,
On the bloody morning after....
One tin soldier rides away..."

And I'll leave my religious brothers and sisters with this thought:

"Now the valley cried with anger,
"Mount your horses! Draw your sword!"
And they killed the mountain-people,
So they won their just reward.

Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it...
"Peace on Earth" was all it said."

John Pieret said...

As a nonbeliever myself, I have to second rkaraff's comments. Strangely, I seem to remember something about "judge not, lest ..." and "let he who is without sin ..."

The First Amendment, including the Establishment Clause, was intended to protect people, including religious people, from the "tyranny of the majority." The Pharisees who have attacked Pastor Prescott would be the first to scream bloody murder if a local majority of Muslims used the government to erect monuments on public property to the Qur'an. or to impose Sharia law.

If you think that just because you are in the majority gives you the right to use the government to impose your beliefs on others, that means that others have the right to do the same to you. Every sect of Christianity ... Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, etc., etc, ... would have the right to impose their beliefs on all the other sects. And that doesn't take into account the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc., etc. And let's not start on the Ethical Humanists, atheists, agnostics and so forth.

Anyone who thinks that things will always be the same will inevitably be crushed by change. That's why we have the Bill of Rights.

Steven said...

Rev. Prescott:

Thank you for standing up for the constitution and freedom for all. You are a man of honor.

Ian H Spedding said...

I would like to add my voice to those speaking in support of Bruce Prescott's action to defend religious freedom in this country. It is quite clearly not about being offended by the Ten Commandments but about being offended by what can be construed as an improper government endorsement of one particular faith.

If government or its agencies want to erect a monument to the Ten Commandments on government property it should only be able to do so provided it extends the same opportunity to all other faiths or people of no faith at all. If that is not acceptable then there should be no religious displays of any kind on government property.

I should add that I am dismayed to see decidedly unChristian sentiments expressed by so-called Christians towards someone who is only acting to uphold the very Constitutional provision that guarantees their right to believe as they choose.

Lee Kozsey - Tulsa said...

And the Beast of the Earth roars with glee.

It is a riddle folks. Just a plain and simple riddle.

Good luck with all this nonsense.


"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."

Matt G said...

Bruce, thank you for this thoughtful piece. I admire your integrity and your bravery, especially in light of some of the comments left by your co-religionists. Please continue to stand up for the values enshrined in our Constitution.

D.S. Compton said...

I am also a minister and I agree with your courageous stand. Only if all faith groups are allowed to place their monuments on public ground side by side with the Ten Commandments-including the Five Pillars of Islam,the Wiccan Credo, and the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism-could one consider this practice nondiscriminatory. The freedom of religion we enjoy in this country was purchased with the blood of our forebears after centuries of religious wars in Europe. While holding fast to our Christian faith, we must jealously guard the religious freedom of our neighbor to have their own beliefs without coercion or discrimination. I also find myself wondering why Fundamentalist Christians want to insist that the Ten Commandments be on their monument when Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. D.S.Compton

wresler103 said...

You're a man of great integrity, Mr. Prescott. Thank you for this piece and for supporting those in the minority against a tyranny of the majority. You're an excellent example for your flock. Many thanks from a non-believer.

Ed Anderson said...

I will be traveling to the capitol today to see the monument.... The only way I can see if being offensive is if it's not big enough or the fact that it is not in the front of the building for all to see that this state recognizes the freedom of religion. God is number one and all other faiths we have a duty to teach them the error of their ways, not to oblige them with there false Gods.