Oklahoma Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss Atheists’ Ten Commandments Lawsuit

Cranford, NJ—American Atheists announced on Friday that its lawsuit concerning a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in American Atheists v. Thompson, et al will proceed as planned after a motion to dismiss was denied by the judge.

The 2,000-pound monument, donated to the state and installed in 2012, was commissioned following a 2009 bipartisan legislative measure requiring its presence. The suit alleges that the law, called the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act,” as well as the monument itself, are unconstitutional violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

One part of the motion was upheld: the case will proceed with two plaintiffs instead of three, since the judge found that plaintiff William Poire lacks standing.

“The judge made the right call and we’re moving forward,” said American Atheists President Dave Silverman. “We expected the state to try to get our case thrown out, and we expected the judge to deny them. This isn’t about a slab of rock; what we have here is clear-cut discrimination. This is about a law, on the books in the state of Oklahoma, that explicitly and specifically endorses the Abrahamic god over all others. That is not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American.”

Following the monument’s installation, the ACLU filed suit in state court and American Atheists filed at the federal level. An animal-rights group, a Pastafarian religion group, and others—including The Satanic Temple—have proposed monuments of their own, though the State Capitol Preservation Commission responsible for approving monuments has placed a moratorium on new monuments while the cases are pending.

More information is available on the American Atheists website here:

Full text of the suit is here (PDF link):

Text of Judge Robin J. Cauthron’s denial of motion to dismiss from May 22, 2014 (PDF link):

For more information, contact:
Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director 908-276-7300 x7, [email protected]

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.


American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

Keywords: American Atheists, Oklahoma, Ten Commandments, Monument Display Act, Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, discrimination, motion to dismiss, lawsuit, State Capitol Preservation Commission, American Atheists v. Thompson, atheism, humanism, freethought


  • gdubs

    Oklahoma: Where we encourage stupid.

    • Boy howdy. Did you know the most powerful conservative organization in your state is a front for the John Birch Society?


    • gduds

      Insulting an entire state because you disagree with something that happens there is pretty “stupid” as well.

      But if it helps you feel superior to other people, please continue to use insults instead of reason.

      • gdubs

        It doesn’t help me feel superior. It ensures I am superior. The insult is entirely reason. Thanks for proving my point.

        • gdubs

          Saying things like “I am superior” pretty much proves my point — you clearly have a deep need to put down other people, most likely because of your own inadequencies and insecurities.

          • gdubs

            I put down people such as yourself because of a fanstasy based perspective (like this article exhibits) and because I CAN. If you don’t like it, stop perpetuating ignorance in Oklahoma. Dolt.

          • Courtney is laughing at you

            Maybe you and Courtney should stay in your fantasy-based world and play games instead of becoming mature adults — what do you think Joe?

          • gdubs

            Really? ‘Cause the joke is on you.

          • I know everything about you

            What joke, Joe? I would consider Courtney’s obsession with games to be a joke, but I’m trying to be charitable here. There are a lot of people who would consider Dungeons-And-Dragons-esque pasttimes to be the epitome of “stupid”.

            Live and let live is what I say. You don’t call everyone in Oklahoma (or believers in general) “stupid” and I won’t make fun of the lifestyle your wife spends an inordinate amount of time on. Only insecure people feel the need to put other people down.

          • gdubs

            Sense. Do you make it?

        • Courtney

          Joe, you shouldn’t keep trying to overcompensate for the fact that you’re shorter than me.

    • Warden

      Your State: Where we encourage assholes, pedophiles. rapists, dumb asses, and people who have never stepped foot in Oklahoma.

      I am an Oklahoman, I have lived my whole life in Oklahoma, and know the rights of every man, Those who call us stupid, retarded, or any other name that they feel is the best way to explain us should note that you are pointing one finger at us, but four towards yourselves. It is appalling to know that people like yourself can say such things when those of us do what we see as right, and are judged for things that idiots like you call wrong everyone precipitation is different. Now the monument has nothing to do with the government, but everything to do with pushing those of us to see our mistakes and try to correct them. What I stated above was not an attack on your state but to prove a point, I stated things about your state that I do not know making me sound like an ignorant ass, which the same as you sound like to me. Show those around you that your are smarter then the ones that brought this pointless issue, and can’t see what ever Oklahoman knows, or are you wanting to stay in the ignorance that you seem to call home

      • gdubs

        cry me a river, nancyboy. Grow a pair. Educate yourself. Change. Then you’ll see that insults aren’t as frequent.

        • Warden

          Its not the frequency I see but moronic ideals such as yours believing that your so much superior. I have to change and learn everyday, which means I see things as they must be. What I see here is nothing more then a child try so desperately hard to prove he is a man. Unfortunately for you the sign of maturity seems to evade you, and those your are not superior in any way but inferior to all that look upon you and see nothing more then a sad, depressed, angry, and lonely little boy. I believe in giving people and their homes a chance and seeing what may come of it. Yes I do believe that this is something above me, what that is I have no idea, but this does not give any one person the right to bad mouth a place that they have never been to, nor does it give one the right to believe themselves better because they can spin a phrase. No I do not believe that I am better then anyone, I just believe everyone has a chance to show their true colors. Whether they are just or not. And if you wish to, if I may, show your ass then by all means do so, just don’t expect the outcome to be in your favor

          • gdubs

            So your only remarks of that of my character and have nothing to do with the state you live in making decisions that are unconstitutional? Great. Just wanna make sure that I am accurate in calling you a dumbfuck.

          • Warden

            So it is true that you are in the greatest of needs to make not only your home to sound better but yourself. By verbally attacking people you have never even seen face to face you prove my theory on this subject. As for the point pertaining to the issue at hand, I could care less about a pointless endeavor to keep an monument to some words spoken of greatness. I believe that if you know this things then that is good enough. My point was not towards your beliefs nor toward your ideals of this topic of religion, but rather to you as a person. Anyone who will openly say things about a state were either burned by someone in the state itself, or of deeper issues about their own home and find comfort in attacking points that they want to be true. Your issue with my state have no concern to me because everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. I just wanted to see your reaction to the consent pushing I was causing. I find that the easiest way to see if someone is truly smart is to push their beliefs, ideas, and religion to a breaking point to find out if the person is competent. This issue of atheists fueding over things that I as well believe is pointless, and I as an Oklahoman can see that is will be a losing fight, as well as the most pointless issue I have ever seen in a few years. I am glad to see someone who is competent here. I do not mean to discomfort any one person but to see if the person truly believes in such lunacy, as this. The only reason I chose you for this is I figured you would be rather challenging

      • gdubs

        btw, I have been to oklahoma multiple times and it’s not a prerequisite for understanding that collectively, you’re one of the least intelligent states in the union.

        • Warden

          You call us the least one intelligent, but the question does bring intself into light, what state do you belong to, that allows you to take so wrong about one that you seem to obsess about? This points to an unhealthy need to make your state sound better then it truly is. I have seen many people in my day do the same, but it wound up that they just lived in a bad home, and wanted to make it sound like they were better off. But the truth is never the easiest thing to swallow. You act as if your home is so great, but underneath the assaults on a state you claim you have been to, may truly lay nothing more then the want of the acceptance that your home is not trash but a golden city of righteousness

          • gdubs

            Oklahoma is statistically the 17th state in high school graduation rate and 41st in college graduation rate. I reside in a state that ranks 2nd and 27th respectively. So, in essence, yeah, my state is a fuckton more righteous. It still doesn’t excuse Oklahoma from governing in a fashion that contradicts the constitution to its core. Stop deflecting and start holding your state government responsible. I’m the last person you should be concerned with.

          • Warden

            I find that your continual thought that I truly care on which state is better quite comical. As I said I could care less one this subject nor any other you could bring to my attention, I only pushed this issue to see your reaction. Although my previous thoughts of your competence is starting to lack. Your state mine, they are all corrupted in some way, the fact you call it righteous only shows you have no real grasp on the real issues. This pointless fight over religion is something to cause people to pay more attention to the minor things then the major. Your reaction to my comments were fascinating, but if you believe I truly care about minor things such as who has the best school, then your not looking at the bigger picture. Yes I have know for sometime that Oklahoma needed to focus on school and less on sports, but before one simple fix can be made the corruption must be burned out. Now I enjoy your petty want to sound better then all, but look beyond the pointless issue and see, I saw you as someone who could see something else in the pot, and I was bored and needed something to do. I could care less about what happens to the monument nor do I care who has the better schools. Please refrain from boring me for I find you very interesting, but my interests have limited views, and thus I might right you off as a waste of time

          • gdubs

            Oklahoma is an ignorant state. Refuting factual information with your opinion and getting snotty about it is the cherry on top. Congratulations OK, you have a winner here.

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  • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

    Secularism is for grownups.

    • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

      So is religious belief … and tolerance of people you don’t agree with

      • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

        Only the emotionally needy require the government to prop up their religion. There should be no religious symbols of ANY kind on taxpayer-owned property, but since they want to play it that way, they’re going to have to put up with atheist symbols or those of any other philosophy with which they disagree.

        • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

          That makes no sense at all.

          By the way, do you use the phrase “secularism is for grownups” over and over on different websites because you can’t come up with a meaningful comment each time? It’s really sad to see you post that same phrase over and over as if you have nothing more intelligent to say.

          • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

            First of all, I can’t believe that what I previously posted “makes no sense” to you. I post “secularism is for grownups” all over different websites because no one should, in this day and age, have to be defending by way of repeatedly explaining the First Amendment. If one is secure in one’s faith the government shouldn’t have to prop it up. Adults in a secular, pluralistic society wouldn’t want to impose their religion on everyone else. Instead, the prayer-in-school-creationist infants are constantly looking for ways to get around the First Amendment.

          • Grown up

            “Prayer in school creationist infants” — that’s an awful lt of (incorrect) immature and irrational stereotyping. The First Ammendment gives us all the freedom to express our beliefs, including religious ones — it’s not a “society must be devoid of religious expression” clause.

            American Atheists sues to remove religious references — who is imposing their beliefs on whom? I’m fine with atheism, but I’m not fine with people who attack others’ beliefs and claim to be “grown-ups”

            And repeating something over and over all over the web makes you look like a child, not an adult.

          • Fujikoma

            There is nothing wrong with attacking the irrational beliefs of others. This includes religious beliefs, as they have no higher standing than any other belief.
            You also seem to be confused. Some cult followers violated the Constitution by requiring a permanent display of their religious rules on government property. Just because they were politicians that violated the Constitution, doesn’t change that fact. No one is suing private individuals or religious organizations to remove their special little rules from their own property.
            The first Amendment contains freedom of religion, not freedom to worship one specific cult’s religion. Not allowing the cult’s monument does not mean the promotion of no religion, as there is no argument for a monument against religion being proposed to replace it. The law is basically no different than, let’s say, purple people are allowed to be in the State House. It may not say other people can’t be in there, but the intention is crystal clear… that purple people are considered in preference to others.

          • Hapax

            Calling a 2000 year-old religion with over one BILLION believers a “cult” is a very weak tactic and adds nothing to the discussion.

            You also seem to present the false choice that one has to either present all beliefs (and lack thereof) or none at all. By your reasoning, we should also remove all the statues of straight white men from public places since gays, women, and minorities are not equally represented.

            A tit-for-tat monument to “lack of belief” is as non-sensical as requiring that the US Capitol also contain monuments to non-democratic forms of government as well, such as fascism, communism, etc. How dare we spend taxpayer money and not give equal time to dictatorships as well?

          • Fujikoma

            I doubt your Billion believers all believe in the same set of rules… they tend to be buffet christians… picking what the like and ignoring the rest.
            The government does have to permit all beliefs if it allows one.
            The statue argument isn’t the same. Those statues represent real people, not made up beliefs. Our government should put up more women/minorities and remove some of the white guys that are up. We (South Carolina) have a disgusting display for a white guy that experimented on black women (nothing for the pain or to knock them out) and yet he’s celebrated for his gynecological advances. He butchered women (black women in particular, because they weren’t considered real people) and yet is honored.
            Your last statement is ironic, given that this religious display is exactly that… a display for a non-democratic, authoritarian belief system. You also are mistaking economic systems for governmental systems. I’d suggest picking up some books on different forms of governments and economic systems.

          • J. Gordon Coogler

            So when scientists disagree with each other, does that invalidate science? The fact that Christians or believers in general don’t all follow the exact same set of beliefs is no different.

            The government does NOT have to permit all beliefs — it merely cannot have a government-sponsored belief (a la the Church of England). If I founded a religion that believed in human sacrifice, it certainly would NOT be allowed equal status.

            And thank you for the patronizing “pick up some books” comment. As a former (major) university professor who has certainly read MANY times more books than you’ve likely even touched in your lifetime, I’m always amazed at how atheists seem to believe that they are always more educated or informed that believers. Like television before it, the Internet doesn’t really educate people : it simply makes them believe they are educated. Your posts are a perfect example of this.

          • Fujikoma

            When a select few (less than 1%) disagree with a well founded theory that the other scientists support (the 99+%), then the science is upheld by trusting that these specialists have rigorously examined the subject using the scientific method.
            Religious belief has historically changed due to social pressures by ignoring/re-interpretting the bad biblical law/belief. Science is founded on evidence while religion is founded on the intentional ignorance of evidence/logic… huge difference.
            You’re actually missing the point of allowing all beliefs. You’ve confused following through with a belief as to holding a belief. A lot of the laws in the bible are illegal to enforce in our secular society and yet a fringe group is constantly howling to have them thrust upon people by displaying them on government property (typically one of the versions of the 10 commandments, which run counter to the rights guaranteed in the Constitution) or by inserting them into the education system (creationism/i.d./decalogue/sex ed. restrictions/pictures of Jesus/prayer banners…). Your point makes no sense, as the bible supports slavery, rape, child murder (and murder in general) and, indirectly, incest. As the government has violated the First Amendment by creating a law establishing the display of a specific religion, they are being challeged in court. They either allow all other religions the same access or they don’t allow any access.
            What are you a professor in, because it isn’t related to political science or economics. Might want to also QUALIFY your credentials if you’re going to flash them… as in the actual college you were a professor at. I’m doubting that it will have any impact on this topic or you, more than likely, would have specified your field. My suggestion of books was specific to government and economic systems. Hardly irrelevant to the conversation, as people tend to confuse them as that reader had. I probably should have told the person to ‘wiki’ it, but I’m more of a ‘print’ person. I’m sure you have read many more books than I have, but I’m doubting that has little value in the topic too.
            It’s also a statistical fact that atheists are more educated than believers.

          • Dum Spiro Spero

            Qualify my credentials? Gladly. Pick an article in physics or engineering from a scholarly journal and I’ll be happy to discuss it in great detail with you, including the derivation of the equations included in the article and the history of research in that field. I can even supply personal details on many of the authors (such as what they like to drink at the conference hotel bar).

            The fact that you discount “print” in favor of “wiki” means that you have absolutely no experience in the field of scientific research.

          • Fujikoma

            So… how, exactly, does that physics/engineering background qualify you in understanding how this particular state is violating the Constitution? Someone decided to bring up their credentials in an oblique fashion and I called them on it, because there was no relevance to their claim. If you’re being honest about yours, then you have less credibility than I do on this topic. Not that it really matters, as anyone can claim to be anything they want under any name they choose.
            If you honestly trust a wiki over an established peer-reviewed journal (online versions are probably governed by the same rules as print articles and would not fit the definition of a wiki), then do you expect others to take your work seriously? Wikis can be set up and controlled by anyone. Do you understand how many students are not taught how to qualify a site as a trusted source? While you may understand the difference, I’ve had to deal with people that don’t. Physics/engineering wikis may be vastly different than medical/biology wikis in their accuracy, but you don’t have creationists gunning for physics and throwing non-scientific garbage out there for everyone to read as has happened with evolutionary theory (and stuff like vaccinations).
            And yet… this still has no bearing on the government violating the Constitution by creating a law to erect a permanent display of laws from one particular religion.

          • k

            Exactly, your credentials are completely unrelated to the topic that is discussed.

          • k

            Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. How do you know Fujikoma isn’t a university professor? Religion should be separate from government. It should permit all beliefs, but only if they don’t harm others.

          • k

            the statues of straight white men represent individuals that happen to be straight and white. not a group that not everyone follows.

          • k

            it isnt about us, it’s about other religions. there is no monument for Muslims or Jews.

          • k

            your analogies are too unrelated to the topic.

          • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

            “:”Prayer in school creationist infants” — that’s an awful lt of (incorrect) immature and irrational stereotyping.” I don’t care how “awful” you think it is, it’s spot on. This is not about religious rights it’s about imposing Christian privilege on the “unsaved.” I know you think displays such as the WTC cross are warm and fuzzy, but taken to its natural conclusion, you might wake up one day to find that a small group of people who regard themselves as unaccountable to anyone but “God” have decided that you aren’t Christian enough.

          • You’ve been brainwashed

            Spot on? It’s sad that you’re attacking a group of people based on inaccurate information. You’re obviously basing your opinions about Christians on propaganda from atheist websites. I realize that you are no doubt absolutely convinced of the correctness of your bigoted stereotypes, but the simple truth is that you’re judging people based on factually inaccurate information. Sad.

          • k

            the intended meaning of “Prayer in school creationist infants” was, I believe, that religion has no place in public school, only at home and church

  • Michael Riedel

    WE WILL WIN THIS FIGHT !! Thanks Dave..

    • Michael Riedel

      Why not try to win it at the ballot box (democracy) instead of in a courtroom?

      • Fujikoma

        This is a democratic Republic, not a democracy. Minorities have the same rights as the majority. The majority doesn’t have the right to restrict/deny minority rights (we are not talking about people convicted of crimes, but regular people) nor does it have the right to give itself special privileges (such as christian monuments to the exclusion of others).

        • Stop whining

          How are your rights being violated here? Typical liberal victim mentality.

          • Fujikoma

            You obviously have no reading comprehension skills nor do you understand the rights and responsibilities of the U.S. government. This is the government violating the Constitution to grant special rights to a particular religious cult. There is no victim mentality… just reminding the government that it has no reason for violating the law. I’d say the only one, with issues, would be the religious groups who feel that their god is so weak, that it needs to violate the law to promote its god. It’s funny how weak and powerless their god is… can’t even get people to follow it without constant reminders. Sounds like a christian version of the taliban. You see, the government can’t violate the Constitution’s protection of religion by requiring a permanent display of one cult’s rules. Clear violation of the first amendment. Given the application of that law, it will more than likely violate the fourteenth amendment as well. The irony, in all of this, is that the commandments violate the foundation of what the Constitution is.

          • Tropo

            “No reading skills” — again, typical liberal tactic where anyine who disagrees with you is, per definitionem, either stupid or ignorant.

            From your posts its clear that you have a very bigoted and stereotyped view of Christians. Again, by your reasoning the winner of the Super Bowl is a “weak” team because it “needs” milions of symbols waved by mindless fans who need constant “reminding”. Did you consider that Christians may simply be expressing their beliefs, not trying to force others to follow them?

          • Fujikoma

            Then why the law to place a permanent display on government property… this isn’t private/cult property. This isn’t expressing their beliefs, it’s getting the government to endorse their beliefs.
            It’s reading comprehension skills… emphasis on comprehension. Religious followers are typically very ignorant when it comes to their particular religion. My tactic has nothing to do with liberal/conservative views. I guess your opinion on a liberal tactic probably runs the same vein for ‘lack of patriotism’ claims by conservatives. It’s a matter of whether there is proof for a particular set of claims or not… religion has shown no proof to verify its claims. It’s not that religious people are always ignorant, since ignorance is lacking facts to make an informed decision. A lot of religious people blatantly disregard evidence. Religions that wish to push their beliefs on others that don’t wish to follow them are no different than the taliban. Our secular laws run counter to religious laws, which protects minority religions and non-believers from outlandish punishments written in the special little books written by narrow minded men.
            I don’t see fans of my football team pushing for laws to place permanent football displays on government property, nor any funny little rules they want everyone else to follow.
            I don’t care for any unproven religion… which is all of them, not just christianity.

          • k

            Obviously you don’t have any reading COMPREHENSION skills. What that means is that you misunderstood what Fujikoma meant in his/her statement, it was only a partial insult.

      • JC

        because the court decides issues like this, not just based on popular vote.

        Please read up on majority rule vs. minority rights by your own founding father, Thomas Jefferson.

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  • WeAre_Anonymous

    I personally believe that we should keep the monument and allow the Satanic Temple’s monument to be built next to it.

  • JC

    This is public land that is being used to put a monument endorsing a particular religion. In order to be inclusive, land should be allotted to post sayings from the Koran, Torah, Buddhism, etc… or a simpler solution, don’t let any religion post any religious monuments on public land!

    • CJ

      Why? The historical fact that Christianity played an important role in the founding and early history of this country may be unpleasant to you, but it’s the still the truth. Should we chisel off all the religious references on existing historical monuments as well?

      • Shogun Roboninja

        The word “religion” is mentioned in the US constitution twice. Each time it is preceded by the word “no”. If you argue that only “early” history should be represented, then first you have to identify how early is early. Should the pagan gods of Native Americans be represented? Should there be a statue of the Virgin Mary be represented since Washington et al received help from the French Monarchy and the continent was discovered by an Italian working for the Spanish? What about the religions of the Africans brought over in chains? How about something honouring the Voodoo priests of Louisiana? Maybe a giant crystal to acknowledge the New Age movement of California?

        • k

          That is probably the best point I’ve heard today, thanks.

  • XaurreauX Pont DeLac

    Bottom line: Atheists terrify most believers who on some level know they can’t have their religion propped up by the government and adhere to the Constitution at the same time. Most of them don’t have a clue about the First Amendment.

  • Dustin Bell

    They have the ten commandments there so what its not hurting nothing and if your offended to the point you want a law suit you just need to go do something productive instead of wasting people’s time. I got news for ya this country was founded on the bible so if gays can march down the streets yelling were quer and were here then the Christians in this country can have a monument of the ten commandments on government property.

  • ramaraksha01 .

    The Terminology that is used gives them away – these are King religions – born at a time when Kings ruled(mostly male) – subjects brought before the King got down on their knees, swore undying loyalty(belief) and begged for his mercy. If pleased he will let you stay(heaven) or else(hell)
    Simple primitive ideas that are frightening when people are ready to dump the rest of humanity under the bus(hell) and all they had to do was offer these brain-washed the easy life of heaven – that’s all it took for millions to sell their souls – just a ponzi-promise

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