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Moses statue project has Edmond in debate

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Moses as depicted from "The Ten Commandments" Moses as depicted from "The Ten Commandments"
Moses with the Ten Commandments Moses with the Ten Commandments
Edmond church that will hold Moses statue Edmond church that will hold Moses statue

By Charles Basset, NEWS 9

A statue about to be erected in Edmond is creating a stir. The statue is an image of the biblical figure Moses. The concern is over the money used to pay for the statue.

The Edmond Visual Arts Commission is about to place a statue of Moses on the grounds of First Christian Church. It's funded through the public/private partnership program. The city paid half of the statue's cost of $17,000 and will own the statue.

Edmond is known for its art. City money helps fund art projects, but should that include religious figures. Scott McDaneld doesn't think so.

"They can put up as many religious statues as they want anywhere in town, but they should be funded by the religion or by private organizations, not by city-government or state-government," McDaneld said.

Several artworks throughout the city have been funded through the arts commission, and the man behind the Moses project, former Edmond mayor and attorney Randel Shadid, says this isn't any different.

"It's just one more piece of art in the city's public collection. It's an asset that's worth twice what the city's got invested in it," Shadid said.

State law says no public money shall be used for any sect, church or religion. News 9 legal analyst Irven Box says the image of Moses isn't the big issue here; it's where the statue will be placed.

"It's still on there to ingratiate or improve the church's property. Who owns it I don't think has any meaning to this," Box said.

Shadid disagrees.

"I mean the whole idea of separation of church and state is really as I see it a non-issue on this. I guess we could always change the name of it to Fred, everybody would be happy then, maybe," Shadid said.

The statue should be in place next month.

Several years ago, the city was sued over a cross on the city's emblem. The city lost that case and the cross had to be removed.

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