Stigler 10 Commandments monument may come down

By Craig Day, The News On 6

HASKELL COUNTY — A Ten Commandments monument outside the Haskell County Courthouse will have to be moved soon.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to get involved in a dispute over the monument. That affirms a lower court ruling that the statue must go, but there are still plenty of opinions on both sides of the debate.

Stigler is home to about 3,000 people. Fifty churches are in the Haskell County phone book. And it’s a town at the center of the debate over religious monuments on public property. A place where just about everyone has an opinion about the Ten Commandments controversy.

“I’m a Christian. I come from a religious background, and I think that it is beautiful there,” said Beth Bray, a Whitefield resident.

For six years, the stone Ten Commandments monument has stood outside the Haskell County Courthouse. For nearly as long, it’s been challenged in federal court and argued by supporters and opponents.

“It’s something the people wanted,” said Andy Mannon, a Haskell County resident.

“You’re just not supposed to mix the two, that’s part of our constitution,” said Sharon Nichols, an ACLU Member.

A federal court ruled the display unconstitutionally endorses religion. The Supreme Court refused to take up the issue, meaning the monument must go. It’s not what most in Haskell County want to hear.

“I think it should stay,” said Mannon.

“I can’t imagine anybody thinking that that is causing a problem being here,” said Bray.

But then, there is Sharon Nichols. While certainly in the minority, she’s pleased.

“To me, if you don’t uphold the constitution’s separation of church and state, nobody’s religion or religious beliefs are safe,” said Nichols.

The monument is expected to be removed in a week. While there are still opinions, both sides agree, they’re glad the issue is settled and they can put the controversy and the spotlight behind them.

There’s some talk in Haskell County that the monument could be placed in a vacant lot across the street from the courthouse, or at a nearby business. The News On 6 also heard one option was to put it on private property just off Highway 9 where drivers would see it as they head into Stigler.

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