Oklahoma Chooses Not to Use Controversial Bible-Less Coins

The proposed designs for the Oklahoma state quarter caused a bit of a stir after U.S. mint designers removed the Bible from them.

In the end, however, when the results were revealed Monday, Oklahomans overwhelming voted for a design that does not feature Ponca City's Pioneer Woman statue, the source of the controversy.

Four of the five proposed designs for the quarter had featured the image of the 17-foot bronze statue, which was presented as a gift to the citizens of Oklahoma over 70 years ago. Although the celebrated statue is of a woman holding the Bible in her right hand and the hand of a young boy in the other, the proposed coin designs noticeably left out the Bible. The removal upset Christians, especially those who felt it was an integral part of the sculpture.

The governor of Oklahoma, Brad Henry, had received a number of complaints from state residents, but noted that the decision was not made locally. It was only after the design ideas had been shipped to the U.S. mint that the historic book was removed.

According to the mint guidelines, the manufacturer cannot place "inappropriate" designs onto the backside of its currency. These include logos or depictions of things whose membership is not universal such as education, sports, commercial, and religious.

Amid the controversy, more than 148,000 votes were cast for the new quarter's design. In the end, the one design that did not highlight the statue was chosen for the commemorative quarter. The chosen art will depict the state bird and wildflower, the scissor-tailed flycatcher and gaillardia.

More than 50 percent of the votes (76,643) were in favor of the less controversial illustration.

The 25 cent piece will be released in 2008, and is part of the 50 State Quarters Program that was launched in 1999.