Atheists, Agnostics File Suit to Challenge Ten Commandments Monument at Arkansas State Capitol

Photo Credit: Jason Rapert

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, representing four female atheist and agnostic complainants, and the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, along with the American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, have filed lawsuits challenging the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state capitol building.

“The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, but also govern the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord’s name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day,” one of the lawsuits states.

“The State of Arkansas may not, consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and Arkansas, instruct its citizens which God to worship, forbid its citizens to use a particular deity’s name in vain, or require sabbath observances for religious purposes,” it asserts.

Included as plaintiffs in one of the complaints are a Jewish rabbi, who asserts that the monument leaves out a number of other commandments in Scripture and trivializes sacred text, and a United Methodist clergyman, who believes that states shouldn’t endorse any specific religion, even if it is the one he professes.

The other complaint was filed on behalf of several atheist and agnostic residents who take issue with having to look at the monument as part of their walking and bicycling group.

“So long as the Ten Commandments monument remains in place, [they] will be forced to have unavoidable and unwelcome exposure to the Ten Commandments monument in the future each time [they] follows [their] path across the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol during [their] regular recreational activities unless [they] alters [their] route solely to avoid coming into unwanted contact with the government-endorsed monument containing the words of the Decalogue,” it states.

The lawsuits ask for the Ten Commandments display to be declared unconstitutional and for its removal to be ordered.

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Read the lawsuits here and here.

Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert and president of the American Heritage & History Foundation, who introduced the legislation that led the to monolith’s installation, said in a statement that the heritage and history of the monument must be defended.

“The sole reason 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 legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas,” he outlined. “Passive acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America and the Supreme Court ruled in Van Orden v. Perry in 2005 that such monuments are constitutional.”

“If the Ten Commandments are good enough to be displayed in the United States Supreme Court Chamber and other state capitol grounds in Texas and around our nation, then they are good enough to be displayed in Arkansas,” Rapert remarked. “I look forward to a vigorous defense of the law in Arkansas.”

As previously reported, a new Decalogue display was just installed last month after a man with mental illness destroyed the original monument. A Christian film production company, a number of churches, and supporters from across the country all donated funds to help pay for the monument.

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.”

In his message entitled “God’s Holiness and Man’s Depravity,” missionary Paul Washer also explained, “Men hate God because God is good. Why do men hate God’s Law? Because it’s good. Well, why would anyone hate a good law from a good God? They would do so only if they are inherently evil.”

“I will sometimes mention the Law, not just in a secular university but even in a Christian setting, and oftentimes, even among those who claim to be Christians, I see their face twist up and they get angry and they start talking about legalism. They start telling me, ‘You’re not going to impose that Law upon us; we’re free!’ And so, I’ll always ask them this question: So, you’re telling me that the Law is oppressive to you and your actions. ‘Yes,’ they say. And then I’ll say this: Which one? Which law?”

“Is it the one that says ‘You shall not lie, bear false witness’? Does that oppress you? If it oppresses you, it’s because, well, you’re a liar and you love your lies. Is it oppressive to you and evil to you that God says, ‘You shall not commit adultery’? Is that oppressive to you? If it is, it’s because you’re an adulterer. I always ask people, which law is it that you hate? And if you do hate these kind of laws, then what does that say about you?”

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