An image of Hanuman, often depicted as a monkey.

An image of Hanuman courtesy Shutterstock

OKLAHOMA CITY (RNS) A few days after a group of Satanists announced plans to donate a memorial on the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol, a Hindu organization said it would apply for permission to erect a statue of Hanuman.

The two groups suggested that Oklahoma legislators opened the door to such displays when they pushed through a bill in 2009 giving permission for a Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds.  The monument, paid for with private funds, was placed there in 2012.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, issued a press release Tuesday (Dec. 10) announcing the group’s intention to apply. Zed said the design would follow.

Hanuman, the monkey king, is an important deity in Hinduism, the world’s third largest faith. He is most popular among devotees of the avatar Lord Ram and others following a devotional path. There are more temples and roadside shrines to Hanuman than to any other deity in all of North India. For Hindus, Hanuman is one of the finest exemplars of a life of love and service of God.

The Ten Commandments monument is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Baptist minister Bruce Prescott and the American Civil Liberties Union. The monument is also the reason groups are now filing for permission to place additional monuments — an equal-access issue of which Oklahoma legislators were aware when they passed the legislation.

Rep. Earl Sears, a Republican from Bartlesville, Okla., who called the Satanist monument offensive, was less inclined to speak directly about a Hindu monument.

“We have a system in place to process these requests,” Sears said. “I stand by my comments that we are a faith-based nation, and I know that once you open the door on this sort of thing that you can’t know where or how it will end up. We’ll just let the system work.”

Trait Thompson, chairman of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission, which approves all monuments, declined to comment, saying only that a good-faith application would be voted on by the commission.

YS/MG END HORTON

17 Comments

    • The christian religion is based on superstition as much as any other religion. This is really great if they do the right thing and allow equal and proper access to other beliefs the christian right wing will freak out, if they don’t they will be involved in a law suit they can not win. Either way it will be fun to watch.

    • It may be offensive to some, but in all fairness it is just as much a legitimate expression of religious faith as the eyesore 10 commandments monument they already approved. If they aren’t going to have any monuments, that one has to go.

      What I love about this situation is it flushed out all of the theocracts into the open. We have idiots like Bryan Fischer saying that religious freedom only applies to Christians. It was clear that key members of the OK legislature thought the same way.
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/12/11/afas-bryan-fischer-redefines-the-word-religion-says-first-amendment-was-meant-to-protect-christians-only/

  1. The state should have a requirement of a minimum number of registered Oklahoma voters sponsoring each monument. As many First Nations and churches are in Oklahoma, I would expect local monuments crowd out the “foreign” monuments in short order. I would expect before it is done that monuments to the Beatitudes, Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, the opening surah of the Qur’an, an eternal flame, and perhaps a manger scene and a crucifix would all be sponsored by different faith groups.

    • @huey bahr: Yeah, OR you could respect the First amendment and stop trying to force ANY religion (yours included) into the government. That is really the only reasonable course of action. These efforts to place alternative monuments would not be making a mockery of your backwards law if your state would just follow the Constitution of the United States.

      I guess that Oklahoma will fall into line when the Supreme Court strikes down this unconstitutional joke of a law.

      • I think the post was meant to be ironic. Huey’s point is that if they shouldn’t be having religious monuments at all. The silly legislators would get the point when the grounds are packed to the gills with Native American monuments.

        But if you are going to have them, the official SCOTUS endorsed fashion is to include many different faiths. Ecumenicism (embrace all faiths) can be religious neutrality in an Establishment Clause way.

  2. While I believe in the total separation of religion and politics I truly believe if one religion has a monument then all should have one based on religious freedom for which is the basis of our NATION’S CONSTITUTION and BILL OF RIGHTS. While yes it is ridiculous to have thousands of monuments erected it is equally as ridiculous to allow one and reject another.
    Good luck to my Hindu brothers and sisters… All Glories to Sri KRSNA and may the Lord bless you all.

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