By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A new Ten Commandments monument was installed on Oklahoma state capitol grounds on Thursday to replace a previous one that was destroyed when a man drove his car into it.
The new 6-foot-tall stone monument, paid for with private money and supported by lawmakers in the socially conservative state, replaced the one installed in 2012, which was knocked down about three months ago.
"I appreciate that the Ten Commandments monument has been restored to its position outside the Capitol," said Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican.
In October, a 29-year-old man suspected of suffering from mental illness was arrested in the incident.
He allegedly spit on a picture of President Barack Obama at a federal building in Oklahoma City, got into a car and slammed into the Ten Commandments structure, saying the devil made him do it, according to Oklahoma law enforcement officials.
Conservative Christian groups fought for years to have the Ten Commandments displayed at the statehouse.
Legislative approval was eventually granted to the groups, who said they were using private funds to commemorate a historical event and were not in violation of constitutional restrictions on the state sponsoring religion.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have the monument removed, contending that it violated church-and-state provisions. Other groups, including Hindus and Satanists, have petitioned to put up their own monuments on the capitol grounds.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Gunna Dickson)