6. Historically, Baptists have affirmed the Divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. The Bible declares, and I affirm, the sacredness and holiness of the religious covenant being affirmed in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19), and it explicitly states that Moses recorded that God personally spoke and wrote down the Ten Commandments:
"These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. (Deuteronomy 5:22 NIV, cf. Exodus 24:12)
Historically, Baptists have affirmed the religious significance and purpose of the Ten Commandments as being the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith.
7. Many Baptists, as well as many other people of faith -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- continue to affirm that the Ten Commandments are properly understood to be the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith. Among them some, like myself, are horrified when attempts are made to have secular courts of law rule that the terms of this sacred and holy covenant no longer have any religious significance and meaning. In the long run, I believe the effect of such rulings serves to undermine sincere faith by trivializing the value of religious covenants.
8. Foremost among the terms in the covenant are those that identify Divinity. The word "God" appears six times, usually within the phrase "the Lord your God" (five times). The word "Lord" appears seven times. One of the commandments pertains to the dignity necessary when invoking Divinity and the special care necessary to assure that every invocation of God have meaning and significance:
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (Exodus 20:7 NIV)
I believe that the name of the Lord God is "misused" when declarations are made that the words "Lord" and "God" on Ten Commandments monuments are historical artifacts and no longer have religious meaning and significance. In effect, this undermines religion by negating the significance of the most sacred symbols of religious language.
9. Historically, Baptists have been among the foremost proponents of the separation of religion and government. Theologically, this conviction derives from the belief that liberty of conscience is prerequisite for the personal decision and commitment from which Baptists believe sincere faith grows. Politically, this belief stems from their experience of persecution for their faith by both the English Crown and by the established church governments of Colonial America. In distinction from nearly every other Christian denomination, the earliest Baptists were insistent that liberty of conscience be secured for people of all faiths and people of no faith.
While some Baptists now deny that church and state should be separate, many Baptists and others like myself, continue to affirm the historic Baptist commitment to separation of church and state. I believe posting a Ten Commandments monument on government property under sham secular pretenses serves to trivialize the holiness of sincere religious covenants and misappropriates a sacred religious symbol to endorse a diluted religiosity devoid of any transformative experience.
10. I have observed the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol from both within and outside the Capitol building. The placement of the monument makes viewing it unavoidable to any sighted person walking up and down the Northeast staircase of the Capitol building. The monument gives me the impression that the Oklahoma state government endorses a certain form of religion.
I have met many people walking up and down that staircase whom I know to be people of other faiths and people of no faith. People for whom both the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma State Constitution secure an equal right to freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I believe posting the Ten Commandments monument before unwelcoming eyes on government property sends a message that such persons are looked down upon as second class citizens by their government. I also believe that their irritation with the monument will serve to create unnecessary divisions and conflict within the community between them and people of conscientious and sincere covenantal faith.