Announced Wednesday, Battles’ appointment comes after he was one of the co-sponsors of House Bill 702, which called for the monument. In addition to the Ten Commandments, the monument will feature portions of the Declaration of Independence and the Georgia Constitution preamble. The bill passed both the House and Senate in March, with Gov. Nathan Deal signing it into law April 29.
Battles said he had been considering the monument for some time with Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia.
“Of course our law is based on a bunch of biblical principles and we have talked about this for a number of years. It just so happens that Greg Morris and I sit next to each other on the floor of the House and we talked about it [for] several years, and we said, ‘Well, let’s stop talking and do something about it.’ So we developed a bill, it got passed and now we’re in the process of doing the study of where it would go on the capitol grounds,” Battles said.
According to the House of Representatives press release, the Capitol Arts Standards Commission Monument Committee will have final approval on the monument’s construction as well as its design, procurement and placement on the Capitol grounds.
Battles believed the monument and its inscription of the Ten Commandments would show visitors where state and national laws originate.
“We have from the Judeo-Christian values ... that statement. It has been a part of our governmental statement ... as long as we’ve been in business as a state and a country,” he said. “ ... All of that came ... through the laws that were introduced in the Bible. This is not a preacher thing. ... And if those people who might say, well, we think we ought to keep religion [separate], ... well you know they should have thought about that way back when we fought for our independence and gained our rights to determine freedom of religion, and so that should have happened way back then. But it did not and I’m proud to say we’re the results of that and we can enjoy the freedoms that we do have.”
As the committee has not yet met, Battles could not give a time frame for selecting a design or building the monument. No site on the Capitol grounds has been considered yet, either.
“This will take a little time. The simple reason [is] we’ve got to look and see what is available and then ... we’re going to be receiving funds to do this work. We got a good bit of work to do before we’ll see anything. If there is something on the grounds of the capitol by the end of session next year, I’ll be happy,” he said.
Funding for the monument is still up in the air. Since the state does not budget for such things, Battles said the committee would explore funding options.
“We’re going to have to determine how this is paid for. We really do not have line items for that, so we’ll probably reach out to raise some money to get that done,” he said. “Again, following the law and regulations that govern these monuments that are on the capitol grounds, we’ll have to follow all of those and we’ll do whatever we need to do to get it done.”