Arkansas Lawmakers Pass Proposal to Place Ten Commandments on Capitol Grounds

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Lawmakers in Arkansas have passed a proposal to place a Ten Commandments monument on the groups of the state capitol, sending the bill to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson for signing.

As previously reported, Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) had proposed the monument, which will be overseen by the Secretary of State and funded by private money.

“The Secretary of State shall permit and arrange for the placement on the State Capitol grounds of a suitable monument commemorating the Ten Commandments,” SB 939 reads in part. “The Secretary of State shall arrange for the monument to be designed, constructed, and placed on the State Capitol grounds by private entities at no expense to the State of Arkansas.”

“The placement of the monument under this section shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others,” it continues.

Rapert points to similar monuments in Texas and Oklahoma being declared as constitutional as legal footing for the placement, including the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Van Orden v. Perry. The display will be erected among a variety of displays that are currently on the capitol grounds.

“I think as part of our state capitol, it would make a nice addition and give a nice honor to the fact that this is a part of the foundation of American jurisprudence,” Rapert opined. “We have room for many more [monuments], and we don’t have anything in particular that honored that aspect of the moral foundation of American law.”

After passing the state Senate 27-3 late last month, the bill advanced to the House of Representatives, where it was deliberated on Wednesday.

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Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) told lawmakers that the Founding Fathers recognized that there is a “higher law” than that which is established by men, pointing to the words of the Declaration of Independence, which state, “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

“The 10 Commandments monument is a visible reminder intended to keep us focused outside of ourselves, just as the founders looked outside of themselves for guidance,” he said, according to the Arkansas News.

But Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) spoke against the proposal, opining that the state would soon be the subject of a lawsuit over the matter.

“We’ll be, as we are now in some respects, the laughingstock of the United States, along with Indiana,” he stated.

Following commentary and discussion, SB 939 passed the House 72-7, sending it on to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson. It has not yet been reported as to whether Hutchinson has signed the bill into law.

As previously reported, the proposal comes just months after District Judge Thomas Prince of Oklahoma tossed out a lawsuit by means of summary judgment that sought to challenge the presence of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol. Prince concluded that the monument served a historical purpose and not solely the presentment of a religious message as it sits on a plot of land that contains 51 other expressive monuments.

A second lawsuit had been filed against the display, but it was dismissed as U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron declared that the complainant had not proven that she suffers personal injury from the monument’s presence.

Photo: Stuart Seeger

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  • thoughtsfromflorida

    As long as it is a part of other monuments, I see no problem with it.

    With that said, to suggest that the 10 commandments is somehow related to the US system of law is simply without merit. Seven out of the 10 commandments are in direct conflict with our constitution.

    • Kent Taylor

      What Bible and Constitution do you read?

      • thoughtsfromflorida

        Most any Biblical version will suffice and the US Constitution.

        Why do you ask?

  • If they put this up, I am sure the Satanic Temple will be trying to install a Baphomet statue again. They won this fight already. When will lawmakers learn that they are opening the door for all other religions to put up their own monuments.
    Best option is to keep them all off government property.

    • Paul Hiett

      Exactly…separation of Church and State.

    • George Campbell

      Let’s see – the Satanic Temple has killed exactly nobody while the Christian Religion has probably murdered a hundred million or more over the past 2000 years. A Baphomet might be a refreshing change…

  • Ambulance Chaser

    I didn’t realize there were so many Jews in the Arkansas legislature. They seem to really enjoy the Ten Commandments there, which were a set of rules handed down to Moses for guidance over the Israelites. The story is detailed in the Book of Exodus, the second book of the Hebrew Torah.

    That is, unless you think the Ten Commandments still apply to Christians. In which case, why not the entire Old Testament? Because Red Lobster is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

    • Guest

      I like “Thou shalt not kill”. I doubly like seeing it on an official state engraved tablet on the state house grounds as set forth by the legislature itself. This means no more capital punishment in Arkansas! Oh wait, I forgot – Republicans have to “interpret” the 10 commandments. They have to be parsed, explained and exceptions must be made. Maybe an entire committee could be set up for the purpose. Like the one about not cheating on your wife. How awkward for the legislators to have to see that every day! Might want to just leave that one off completely…

  • Here we go again. Per SCOTUS, If you host one religious view on government property, you must host any and all who wish to be represented too. A nice statue by the Church of Satan will look great next to that. Then a sculpture of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a statue of Garuda or Hanuman, etc. etc…

    • Guest

      So? Freedom of speech! I say bring it! Turn the State House into a religious freak show! I’d pay $3 to tour it when it’s all set up. Be sure to get that religion about Ganja. This is going to be awesome!

  • George Campbell

    “You shall not commit adultery.” Gosh,most of the State Legislature is going to have to resign over this one alone. And how about the next one? “You shall not steal.” As if anyone in the Arkansas State Legislature believes in that one.

  • BarkingDawg

    A symbolic gesture, and little else.

    This will do little more than waste taxpayer money.

    There will never be a 10 commandment monument on the grounds.