LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A new Ten Commandments monument was installed on Thursday on the grounds of the Arkansas capitol building after a mentally ill man destroyed the first Decalogue display last year with his car.
“The sole reason that we donated this monument to the state of Arkansas is because the Ten Commandments are an important component to the foundation of the laws and the legal system of the United States of America and of the state of Arkansas,” said Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, who leads the American History and Heritage Foundation, the non-profit entity that raised funds for the monument’s installment.
The unveiling of the display was met with applause from those gathered to witness the occasion. Over 800 people had donated to the cause.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before you,” Lanelle Tippit told local television station KARK. “If you do that, then everything else will fall in place.”
“This is what our country was founded on is God,” Tippit’s husband, Doug, added.
However, a number of opponents also were present for the dedication, including those who identify as Satanists.
“Satanism represents free thought, individualism,” attendee Chris Russell told the outlet. “Basically, you are your own god. I’ve never subscribed to the Christian religion. It’s never resonated with me.”
The ACLU of Arkansas and the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers have expressed an intent to sue to challenge the placement of the Decalogue display, while The Satanic Temple says that it might join other suits, but from the angle of that it should also be permitted to erect its Baphomet statue at the capitol.
As previously reported, the original monolith had been proposed by Sen. Rapert in 2015. His bill was approved in the House and Senate, and was subsequently signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“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,” S.B. 939 read in part.
However, less than 24 hours after its installment, a man identified as Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren rammed his car into the Decalogue display, knocking it down. He recorded a video of himself committing the act, which was carried out while it was still dark, at approximately 5 a.m. local time.
While Reed characterized himself as a “Pentecostal Jesus freak” on his Facebook page, he said he also believes in the “separation of Church and State.” Reed additionally suffers with mental illness—particularly schizoaffective disorder—and was consequently found to be unfit for trial. He was rather ordered to undergo further evaluation in a state hospital.
Reed had previously destroyed a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, later explaining that he was obtaining help for his psychiatric issues.
“Michael Tate Reed II stated in a letter that his psychotic breaks led to getting inspiration from a Dracula movie, thinking Michael Jackson’s spirit was in meat, believing he was the incarnation of an occult leader and attempting to contact Lucifer’s high priestess he called Gwyneth Paltrow,” Tulsa World outlined.
Rapert said on Thursday that any excess of funds donated to replace the monument will be used to help other entities who would like to display the Ten Commandments.
“Other people in other states have already asked us to help them,” he outlined. “The American History and Heritage Foundation is committed to helping any city, any town, any county and any state erect monuments to the Ten Commandments.”
1 John 5:3 states, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous.”
Romans 13:8-10 also notes, “Owe no man anything but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this: thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”