Arkansas to Get Ten Commandments Monument

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, trying to regain his bonafides after caving on Arkansas’ RFRA+ law, has signed into law a bill to put a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state capitol. The bill was sponsored by vile right wing bigot Jason Rapert, naturally, and contains all manner of nonsense and false claims.

The Ten Commandments represent a philosophy of government held by many of the founders of this nation and by many Arkansans and other Americans today, that God has ordained civil government and has delegated limited authority to civil government, that God has limited the authority of civil government, and that God has endowed people with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;

In order that they may understand and appreciate the basic principles of the American system of government, the people of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas need to identify the Ten Commandments, one of many sources, as influencing the development of what has become modern law;

The placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would help the people of the United States and of the State of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.

Now that is some Grade A bullshit right there. If the Ten Commandments was really the basis of the law in this country, why does the Constitution explicitly forbid the enforcement of at least 7 of them, especially the first one about not having any other gods? And the notion that the Ten Commandments are some sort of philosophical treatise on government rather than a list of religious rules is simply inane.

It’s also the first time I’ve ever seen a law that anticipates being sued over it:

The legislation authorizes the state attorney general to “prepare or present a legal defense of the monument” should the legality or constitutionality of the monument be challenged in court. The attorney general, the bill says, may also ask a conservative legal foundation, the Liberty Institute, to defend the monument in court.

Weird. Even weirder:

Mr. Rapert, the state senator who sponsored the legislation, told the paper that the ACLU “has no moral authority” to speak about the Ten Commandments from a religious perspective.

WTF does that even mean? What could it even mean?

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  • D. C. Sessions

    Fiscal conservatives, with their laser-like focus on the economy and frugal use of every dime the taxpayers entrust to them.

  • MikeMa

    Rapert doesn’t mind spending other peoples money to play lawyer games. What a toad.

  • kantalope

    Ah yes who can forget the 2nd commandment: thou shalt have life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those bronze age jews sure knew a lot about freedom,

    Oh that’s not the second commandment. That’ not any of the commandments.

    It’s really complicated according to wikipedia it could be any of these: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” under the Philonic division used by Hellenistic Jews, Greek Orthodox and Protestants except Lutherans.

    “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” under the Talmudic division of the third-century Jewish Talmud.

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” under the Augustinian division used by Roman Catholics and Lutherans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Commandment

    wonder who’s commandments they plan to use?

  • Moon Jaguar

    I remember the good old days when politicians actually governed — you know, passed legislation that was useful to people, extended civil rights, created jobs and stuff. Now elected officials mostly just suck up to evangelical xtians and raise money.

    We have become the laughingstock of the western world.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    WTF does that even mean? What could it even mean?

    The ACLU has no religious authority. That’s what government is for.

  • John Pieret

    Mr. Rapert, the state senator who sponsored the legislation, told the paper that the ACLU “has no moral authority” to speak about the Ten Commandments from a religious perspective.

    Um … so the monument is supposed to speak about the Ten Commandments from a religious perspective? Thanks for admitting it and saving the people of Arkansas money by making it a very short case.

  • Sastra

    “Mr. Rapert, the state senator who sponsored the legislation, told the paper that the ACLU “has no moral authority” to speak about the Ten Commandments from a religious perspective.”

    WTF does that even mean? What could it even mean?

    It means the Ten Commandments are on gool.

    When Scientology incorporated spiritual claims and went from being a self-help program to a religion, it no longer had to worry about being criticized for pseudoscience re e-meters or psychology. Religions are considered exempt from rational standards because they’re matters of “faith.” No more secular constraints, you can do assert and believe what you want.

    So it sounds to me like the Arkansas governor and his cronies are under the impression that, being religious and a matter of faith, the Ten Commandments are exempt from legal standards, too. Particularly since this matter of faith is so obvious and self-evident. I mean, constitutional democracy makes no sense without the Abrahamic religion because the universe wouldn’t even be here if God didn’t make it. Duh.

  • raven

    Mr. Rapert, the state senator who sponsored the legislation, told the paper that the ACLU “has no moral authority” to speak about the Ten Commandments from a religious perspective.

    Neither does anyone else. There are 42,000 xian sects and they disagree on everything. Including who is a True xian and who is a Fake xian. There is no consensus on who owns “moral authority” whatever that is.

    Most Nones and some nominal xians know that any moral authority claims of xians in general and fundie xians in particular are simply wrong and nonexistent. My cat has as much moral authority as Mr. Rapert and every xian in Arkansas.

  • raven

    Thanks for admitting it and saving the people of Arkansas money by making it a very short case.

    One hopes. One would think. This is clearly just xians marking their territory and the Ten Commandments are clearly religious laws of interest mainly to xians so they can ignore them.

    Judge dismisses suit over Oklahoma Ten Commandments …

    hosted2. ap.org/…10…Ten-Commandments…/id-7e8a442fb6394e42af41…

    Mar 10, 2015 – Judge dismisses suit over Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument … U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled that the group lacked legal …

    The federal judge in Oklahoma just allowed their monument to primitive superstition to stay.

    I don’t see how. The Google capture indicates that it was on the basis of standing. So maybe he just punted and there will be other court cases. Or maybe he just let his own religion dictate his decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1399822355 markmckee

    I would point out that its not the constitution that states that god has anything to do with anything. That “they are endowed” thing is in the Declaration of Independence.

    And it DOES NOT say endowed by god. Nor does it say “endowed by the creator”. It says that people are endowed by THEIR creator for their inalienable rights.

    I think the use of the pronoun “their” in this sentence is extremely important. They could easily have used the word god or the word “the” creator but this would imply some consensus on a deity. Their use of the word “their” implied that there was no official consensus and that how you defined your creator was up to the individual. Thus, not only do our founding documents not support any christianist god, it goes out of its way to be neutral on what god is the real god.

  • caseloweraz

    I’m currently reading a book which goes to some length to document the fact that most of the founders were Deists. It’s maybe a bit verbose (I’m not very far into it), but is surely worth reading. The book is Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic by Matthew Stewart (W. W. Norton & Co., 2014).

    That Ethan Allen guy must have been quite a character…

  • caseloweraz

    I’m currently of two minds about this. On the one hand, I’m against putting the Decalogue on government property. On the other, since different traditions list the commandments in different order, there is arguably some dispute over their priority. Wikipedia notes the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus, asked which commandments should be honored, mentions first “Thou shalt do no murder.”

    So, in this second (probably transitory) view, I’m all for putting the commandments in every Arkansas courthouse — provided the one that says THOU SHALL NOT KILL (I like the KJV wording) is made most prominent, whatever position in the list it occupies. Put them in the courthouses in Florida and South Carolina, too. Let’s see if they make any difference.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    The Ten Commandments represent a philosophy of government held by many of the founders of this nation and by many Arkansans and other Americans today,

    Our founder, Cecil B. DeMille!!!

  • John Pieret

    raven:

    The federal judge in Oklahoma just allowed their monument to primitive superstition to stay.

    Actually, he didn’t, although the distinction may matter more to lawyers than the general public. The judge ruled that American Atheists and the two Oklahoma citizens from AA didn’t have “standing” to bring the lawsuit. There was no ruling whatsoever as to whether the erection of the monument was constitutional or not.

    In these type of cases (where the state claims the monument is part of a limited public forum) someone has to try to also use the forum (the Satanists have already propose a rather handsome statute), be turned down and then they will have standing to challenge the law.

  • coragyps

    Maybe they’ll get tablets with the Exodus 34 commandments (the real ones!) by mistake. When they find out that they’ve outlawed chicken-fried steak, they will have to repeal their law…..

  • raven

    In these type of cases (where the state claims the monument is part of a limited public forum) someone has to try to also use the forum (the Satanists have already propose a rather handsome statute), be turned down and then they will have standing to challenge the law.

    OK.

    Baphomet here we come.

    I’m waiting for the Pagan statue of Thor and the Aesir battling the Frost Giants. If it is a limited public forum, it’s going to get crowded pretty quickly. I’m sure the Flying Spaghetti Monster one will be quite imaginative and popular.

  • busterggi

    Christains must be constantly afraid of early Alzheimers o/w why would they need constant reminders of 10 simple rules.

  • peterh

    I want to see Kokpeli sheltered by Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I want to see Kokpeli sheltered by Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.

    Oh, damn — that is such a great idea that I’m going to have to ping some of the Etsy crowd and see about commissioning a hanging. Perhaps literally: Yggdrasil was, after all, a great place to hang losers so that Huginn and Muninn could feast on their eyes.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    The legislation authorizes the state attorney general to “prepare or present a legal defense of the monument” should the legality or constitutionality of the monument be challenged in court. The attorney general, the bill says, may also ask a conservative legal foundation, the Liberty Institute, to defend the monument in court.

    This also sounds like a bill of attainder, which are unconstitutional according to the federal constitution. I don’t know about the state’s constitution. Is the federal protection against bills of attainder applicable to the states, possibly through the 14th?

    PS: Standing in cases like this is bullshit.

  • felidae

    How come the xians never seem to want to put the Sermon on the Mount on a monument or a government building wall–I would guess it sounds to them like something liberals would write

  • lorn

    Point of order, up until the mid-50s very few state and county buildings had any reference, whatsoever, to the Biblical ten commandments. Yes, there was the odd statue of Moses, often with with Plato and Copernicus, and Moses sometimes carried a symbolic plaque that might represent the ten commandments. But, for the most part, the commandants were left without any monument.

    But then, in 1957 something changed. Monuments to the ten commandments popped up across the nation on courthouse steps, in front of capital buildings, on town squares. There were variations but most are simple granite monuments of a similar simple design. Who put them there? Did the nation just spontaneously go religious? Was there a sudden recognition of a deep psychic need for civil monuments to one particular religious tradition?

    No. None of that.

    What happened was that Cecil B. DeMille, the master of the film epic and casts of thousands, released his last and greatest big movie event and he, and Paramount Pictures, wanted hype their new movie to the maximum extent possible. So they had local monument companies across the US produce granite monuments to the ten commandments and quietly deliver them to select public places where their unheralded appearance would raise questions, controversy, and develop buzz that would get butts into seats in theaters. Most were delivered without permission or consent of the local authorities. It was an effective commercial advertisement, not an outbreak of religious fervor, that made them appear overnight.

    It was a simpler time. A time when people could show up at night with a truck, offload a piece of granite weighing a couple of tons, and place it on the courthouse steps without causing concern. Or a SWAT team showing up.

    Honoring a ten commandment monument purchased and placed as a stunt as part of advertising for a movie is ridiculous. It would be like erecting a bronze statue of the the Hamburgler in front of city hall and claiming that taking it down would interfere with the citizens right to kill themselves with cheap, uninspired, fast food.

    If there was justice in the US all the monuments would have been removed the day after they showed up. Unfortunately in 1957 we were in the middle of the cold war and the thinking was that a really good way to differentiate ourselves from the USSR was to emphasize our acceptance of religion as compared to the “Godless communists”.

    It is sad that ten commandment monuments in public spaces has caught on as a legitimate and accepted public expression. Sadder still that people seek to reproduce a advertising stunt as anything but irony.

  • birgerjohansson

    Will this be the set of commandments that forbid the boiling of an infant sheep in its mother’s milk? There are so many commandments, rules and stuff that I get a migraine trying to remember it.

    BTW exactly what is the punishment for using cloth with different textiles, again?

    .

    “Neither does anyone else”

    i can try to do the job, if they pay for the tickets.

    I know absolutely nothing about the old testament, so I am on a level playing field with the fundies who ignore recent translations from ancient hebrew, and the new interpretations from authorities of textual criticism.

  • david

    “God has limited the authority of civil government, and that God has endowed people with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”

    The big J clearly tells his disciples to obey government, in all rules. The bible supports the divine right of kings. Nowhere does the bible limit the authority of civil government.

    The bible does say that God endowed people with life. But where, in either testament, does God grant liberty or the pursuit of happiness? The 10 commandments are all about “though shalt not…” without a single provision for liberty or pursuit.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I think a plaque of Matthew 19:24 would be OK.