A granite monument of the Ten Commandments that has sparked controversy since its installation on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol, has been taken down and carted away.
Late on Monday night, contractors started taking down the statue and transporting it to a private conservative think tank for storage.
The operation to remove the monument came after a decision taken by the Oklahoma Supreme Court this summer, that it violated state rules that prohibit the use of public property to support "any sect, church, denomination or system of religion."
The decision to remove the monument has sparked heated debate in Oklahoma and beyond. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol had increased security around the monument.
Originally authorised by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009, the privately funded monument has been a focus for debate since it was erected in 2012, prompting a lawsuit from Bruce Prescott, a Baptist minister from Norman who complained it violated the state constitution, the Associated Press reported.
“Frankly, I’m glad we finally got the governor and attorney general to agree to let the monument be moved to private property, which is where I believe it’s most appropriate,” said Mr Prescott.
“I’m not opposed to the Ten Commandments. The first sermon I ever preached was on the Ten Commandments. I’m just opposed to it being on public property.”
I, for one, have no problem with the Ten Commandments being on public property. It's a freaking law code, people need to find a new outrage.— ReddishRectangle (@RedRedRectangle) October 6, 2015
Its placement at the Capitol prompted requests from several groups to have their own monuments installed, including a satanic church in New York that wanted to erect a seven-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard. A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also made requests for monuments to be erected.
The original monument was smashed into pieces last year when someone drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A 29-year-old man who was arrested the next day was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment, and formal charges were never filed. A new monument was erected in January.Reuse content