Religious organization seeking placement of Sanskrit scripture if Oklahoma bill passes

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It's a bill causing a lot of controversy at the Oklahoma capitol.

In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments Monument that was housed at the Oklahoma State Capitol violated the Constitution.

That decision led to the monument being removed from the capitol grounds.

Last year, Oklahoma voters shot down a state question that would have allowed the Ten Commandments to move back to the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.

State Question 790 would have removed a part of the Oklahoma Constitution that prohibits the use of state resources for religious purposes.

Despite voters rejecting the question, some Oklahoma lawmakers continue to work to bring the monument back to the capitol.

House Bill 2177 would allow cities, schools and muncipalities to display "historical documents, monuments and writings" in public buildings and on public grounds.

The documents that could be displayed include the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, Oklahoma Constitution and the Ten Commandments.

The bill, which was authored by Rep. John Bennett and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, recently passed the House of Representatives.

Although it hasn't been heard by the Oklahoma Senate, a religious organization said it will seek placement for its monuments if the bill is passed.

The Universal Society of Hinduism said, if the bill becomes law, they will work to place monuments with ancient Sanskrit scripture in public places including the Myriad Gardens, calling it a historically significant document.

However, it's up to each location to approve of the monument.

"I think, as a monument for the Botanical Gardens, it doesn't make sense here, because our core mission is a botanical garden, so we're all about plants and gardening and horticultural gardening and education and inspiration,” said Executive Director for the Myriad Botanical Gardens Maureen Heffernan.

The University of Central Oklahoma could be open to monuments like the Ten Commandments and Hindu scripture, as well.

"Things should stay as they are right now. Because, the devil is also historical, so you could put a devil statue here, too. It opens up a big old can of worms,” said Ivan Gutierrez.

When it comes to the placement of a monument at municipalities, officials said there is a process.

"Our City Council would consider that, so they would have a policy decision and that is how we would determine whether a monument would get into a city facility or park,” said Kristy Yager, spokesperson for the city of Oklahoma City.

We reached out to the bill's authors and Universal Society of Hinduism but haven't heard back