Ten Commandments monument that was planned for the lawn of the LeFlore County Courthouse will be placed outside a bank on a busy city street in Poteau. Former Poteau Mayor Don Barnes says the monument will be dedicated Wednesday at the main branch of Community State Bank.
Supporters want the monument on the courthouse lawn - but LeFlore county commissioners want to wait until a lawsuit challenging a similar monument in Haskell County is resolved. A federal appeals court has said the Haskell County monument unconstitutionally endorses religion and the county is appealing. Community State Bank President Larry Spradley has said the bank is committed to displaying the monument for however long it takes.
The vast majority of Ten Commandments monuments in America are the ones dedicated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. In total the FOE produced about 40,000 large and small framed prints of the Ten Commandments, which they distributed to both public and private institutions starting in 1951.
In 1955 Cecil B. DeMille was filming the movie The Ten Commandments and he wrote to the FOE to commend them on their work in distributing copies of the Ten Commandments. He suggested that they make larger monuments that could be placed at court houses and public parks, etc.
The FOE liked the idea and they worked with DeMille to promote his movie by unveiling monuments across the country just prior to its opening, with actors from the movie present at the unveilings. All in all 145 monuments were dedicated around the country before and after the release of the movie. The monument at the Texas State Capitol, recently a center of controversy, was dedicated by the FOE in 1961.
There are a handful of Ten Commandments displays on public buildings that date back prior to 1935 in America, they are typically on either county or city property and are just small documents or plaques, typically in obscure places.