Arkansas is a step closer to installing a Ten Commandments monument outside the State Capitol… which means Arkansas is one step closer to being sued for promoting Christianity.
State Senator Jason Rapert has spent more than two years trying to make this happen, and he’s had help from government officials (who know nothing about how the law works) every step of the way.
As soon as the proposal began making its way through the House and Senate, atheists and Satanists applied to donate their own monuments, but this past February, House members passed a bill (unanimously) giving them final approval over any proposals.
Ten Commandments? No problem.
Baphomet statue? Forget it.
And now the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission has paved the way for the installation of the Ten Commandments monument:
A state panel gave final approval Thursday to the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol.
The Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission voted unanimously to approve the location and design of the monument, which a 2015 law requires the state to allow if private sources provide the funding.
Holly Dickson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said Thursday the planned Ten Commandments monument will be unconstitutional.
“From the time that bill was filed, we have warned that this is the government taking sides in terms of people’s religious beliefs. The government is supposed to stay neutral in matters of religion, and therefore it’s unconstitutional and will violate Arkansas’ rights and lead to litigation,” she said.
Dickson said the ACLU of Arkansas is “ready, willing and able” to file that litigation after the monument is erected.
Not that Rapert is worried. In his mind, he’s got the legal issue all worked out.
Rapert said the monument will be an “exact copy” of one that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stand at the Texas State Capitol.
“I see no reason whatsoever that there is a danger that that monument (in Arkansas) will be coming down,” he said.
What he doesn’t understand is that the Texas monument was one of several displays erected to showcase the “ideals” of the state and never intended as a way to promote Christianity.
Rapert’s monument, on the other hand, has always been about promoting Christianity. Preventing the monuments of Satanic and atheist groups from going up only adds to that theory. If he wants to look to the Supreme Court for precedent, he should recognize that the Court said no to another Ten Commandments monument that had none of the broader context seen in Texas.
This is a big mistake and it’ll ultimately cost the taxpayers in the state a lot of money. It’s just a matter of time.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)