Arkansas Ten Commandment Monument Fight Looms

Arkansas Ten Commandment Monument Fight Looms April 21, 2018

On Thursday, Arkansas State Senator Stanley “Jason” Rapert (R-Conway) announced the re-installation of the Arkansas State Capitol 10 Commandments monument will take place next week, setting off a flurry of activity among groups like the ACLU and The Satanic Temple (TST), which have both threatened legal action since the monument’s initial approval.

As you may remember the original monument was, rather ceremoniously, destroyed by an avowed Christian named Michael Tate Reed in June of last year within hours of the statue’s unveiling.

The Monument’s Destruction Put Legal Actions on Hold

The destruction of the monument by Mr. Reed stymied plans by organizations like the ACLU and TST to file lawsuits regarding the monument because it presented an issue over whether or not people have legal standing to object to a statue that isn’t physically standing. So everyone involved decided their best course of action was to wait for the monument’s replacement to be erected before the lawyers would start lawyering.

In the meantime, Rapert’s GoFundMe for repairs … sorry I meant the American History and Heritage Foundation’s GoFundMe (the foundation is not, technically, Mr. Rapert even though it shares a Post Office box with his election campaigns and his Christian Ministry and there’s nothing remotely questionable about that at all apparently) raised plenty of money to replace the statue including large sums from religious organizations like Agape Church (which donated at least $5,500) and and the producers of painstakingly crafted dramatizations of hastily constructed strawman arguments … sorry again, I meant the producers of the “God’s Not Dead” film franchise (who donated $25,000).

It looks like all that money (a grand total of just over $85k at the time of this writing) will be put to good use on legal defense very soon. What’s interesting is that the fate of the monument rests on defeating two very different legal challenges.

The ACLU and TST Legal Strategies are Entirely Different

The ACLU lawsuit will, most likely, claim that any religious monument is by it’s nature exclusionary to citizens who are not a member of that religion and has no business being on government property. The TST claim, is different in that they don’t ask for the 10 Commandments monument to be removed, just that if religious monuments are allowed that their Baphomet monument be included as well. TST’s case is interesting because they were already in the process of seeking approval for the monument when the Arkansas legislature changed the rules regarding how monuments get approved in what certainly appears to be a blatant attempt to exclude TST’s monument from consideration.

Image Credit: The Satanic Temple

State Senator Rapert, however, seems to be relying on the notion that (somehow) the biblical ten commandments are not religious and instead a monument to “the historical foundations of law” … which anyone who ever paid attention in High School civics should be upset about because …

The 10 Commandments Don’t Have Anything to Do with American Law

It shouldn’t be my job to tell you that when it comes to the history of when people started writing down lists of things you shouldn’t do and prescribing punishments for people who do those things the right answer is The Code of Ur-Nammu, which any historian who isn’t just blatantly making things up has to admit predates the 10 Commandments by around 800 years. It also has the added benefit of the actual cuneiform tablets actually being on display at a museum in Turkey while no such remnants of the original Mosaic law tablets have ever been found.

So let’s dispense with this idea that the introduction of these biblical precepts were by any means an innovation in how society dealt with people doing bad things to each other. Rapert’s … sorry again, The American History and Heritage Foundation’s position is that they are not presented in a religious context but instead an homage to the tradition of common law (and only paid for by Christian propagandists and churches). Even given that … of the 10 commandments there are, at best, 3 that have anything to do with actual crimes (murder, theft, and perjury). Of the remaining seven, five are just an alleged deity demanding subservience to arbitrary hierarchy, one has to do with what people do in private, and the last one is an outright condemnation of thought-crime.

That last one, by the way, is about how you shouldn’t want your neighbor’s stuff … and last I checked isn’t wanting cool stuff because you saw someone else with it the entire basis of capitalism? So how is any of this symbolic of America? Your guess is as good as mine.

So, the monument is expected to be put back up at the Arkansas Capital Building on April 26th, and I would expect to see lawsuits filed not long after.

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  • Jeff

    … which anyone who ever paid attention in High School civics should be upset about because …

    Well, that’s your problem right there….

  • (eating popcorn intensifies)

  • Dennis Lurvey

    4 of the commandments are what god to worship, don’t make images of it, don’t take it’s name in vein, etc. 4 of them are not crimes in this country, two have been illegal for over 4k years.

    soon it will look like this picture of Oklahoma’s being removed at midnight.

  • Jim Jones

    The first commandment is rejected by the first amendment.

  • Holly Vee Wigginton

    It’s funny. To some people being a Christian is all about following rules and trying to be good enough to get into heaven. – Their hearts are just as much tablets of stone like what He wrote the 10 commandments on. In Ezekiel, God promised the Israelites He would give them a new heart of flesh and break their hearts of stone. After all Jason Rapert has done to vilify and legislate against the poor and disadvantaged in our state, I wish his heart transplant would come a bit sooner.

  • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

    What’s this blasphemy? The last TWO commandments are about covetting your neighbor’s stuff.
    It would make NO sense to have the same commandment apply to both coveting your neighbor’s house and coveting your neighbor’s wife and animals.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    There have been a few times that I coveted my neighbor’s wife’s ass.. I’m either totes safe, or totally fucked.

  • Ruth Lafler

    As are the second, the third (the first amendment protects speech and images) and the fourth (mandating the Sabbath would be establishing religion). As noted, the economy would crumble if coveting were illegal!

  • Putney Swope

    I know I should be kind to those that think the 10 Commandments are somehow divine. To me they are clearly an imperfect attempt by one set of human minds to control another. First, what supreme being would care if it was worshiped at all? Would an entity that created the universe be that insecure and in need of adoration? I seriously doubt it. So the first 4 commandments are nonsense. The rest are common sense or covered under any state’s penal law. So why waste time with them?
    Second, the 10 commandments came out of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a Hebrew book. The Israelis went to great expense and lengths to find some evidence that their ancestors were ever enslaved in Egypt. They failed miserably and had to admit there was not a shred of evidence it ever happened. So logically, there was no wandering in the desert for 40 years, no directionally challenged Moses leading them around, no trip to the mountain to receive said flawed commandments. The whole thing is a myth. Not my determination but the people whose book it is.
    OK Fundies, time to look for some other reason to waste your Sunday mornings.

  • Janet McPhail

    I’m sick of these people putting things up like this that are very clearly unconstitutional, and then costing the people of their city or state thousands in legal fees for the lawsuits that arise. The people who do this should have to pay for the legal costs out of their own pockets and see how long this crap continues.

  • steveiam

    Here we go again…another backwards venue attempts to ram religion up every ‘Sphinx, or nose,’ so the Bible humpers can facilitate more discrimination, lies, and bad behavior. Remember, the mealy mouthed Huckabee gaggle comes from Arkansas, enough said.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Even given that … of the 10 commandments there are, at best, 3 that have anything to do with actual crimes”

    Not even that many. There are 613 commandments in the old testament. Of the 613, the Bible refers to one group of them as the ” 10 commandments”.

    Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    According to Exodus 34: 14-28, THESE are the 10 commandments:

    1 Thou shalt worship no other god.
    2 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
    3 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
    4 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day rest.
    5 Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
    6 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
    7 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
    8 Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
    9 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
    10 Thou shalt not seeth a kid in his mother’s milk.

    The various “ten commandment” monuments around the country have the wrong commandments on them.

  • Michael Bean

    I’ve been wondering why all of these supreme, omniscient, omnipotent, timeless gods always seem to be dependent on human spokesmen to spread the message, why do they never speak directly to their subjects/creations? Why do they hide from us?

  • pennyroyal

    we don’t have to tolerate intolerant people who insist that their buy-bull is superior to anything written since, especially when they, and their little book, have caused so much suffering throughout its history.

  • pennyroyal


  • Tom Hanson

    I have loved fundy watching since Spencer Tracy took them on in Inherit the Wind (first film version). This one should be an easy win for the ACLU if the issues involved are as simple as this article makes them look. I too will be buying more popcorn.

  • Philip Buczko

    Just tell them where to stick it!

  • Phil

    I have no problem with #10. Kid a la creme de la mere does not sound very appetizing. #2 is puzzling. No making gods out of molten metal presupposes that gods are createable and it is just a question of materials.

  • Rennyrij

    Putney Swope, I think you hit the nail on the head, here. If one was so powerful as to be able to create a world, why would that entity have such low self-esteem as to need to be worshipped by its created beings? Yes indeed – it’s all about Power and Control…and Greed…on the part of a self-selected few. Michael Bean, you’ve got another excellent point. My question is, why aren’t the religious people asking these questions? Is there a way to get them to pay attention without causing even more problems than we already have?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Mmm sounds good.

    But the fact is the commandments the Bible ACTUALLY calls the ten commandments have one about resting for a day ( always nice), and 3 about proper feasting.

    They aren’t harsh buzz kills like the incorrect list used on the monuments.

    If the people in support of commandment monuments are given permission to erect one, they should have 2 options.

    1) have the CORRECT list, which I posted here in my OP

    2) have ALL 613 commandments ( this would include the long list of who you are supposed to kill, what you can & can’t wear, how to have your hair or beard, and god’s ( according to the Bible) laws regarding buying, selling, and owning slaves)

  • Love that movie. TST’s legal council Stu De Haan once told me he credits it with is decision to become a lawyer in the first place.

  • Oh the findies would just say Satan is hiding the evidence of the Jewish enslavement in Egypt. That has to be it, the bible being inerrant and all….

  • You would think that true Christians would follow their leader Jesus’ teachings about helping the poor instead of wasting all that money on stupid statues. Priorities, huh?

  • Tom Hanson

    TST’s ambition will be more difficult to argue certainly, but could be a lot of fun for any imaginative lawyer.

  • Well … that’s what I’m saying about how the two lawsuits can effect each other. Like the court could tell the ACLU they lose because it’s a limited public forum, but that would bolster TST’s case because those forums must be inclusive; or the ACLU could win and TST would no longer have standing because the monument would come down. Rapert is hanging his argument on this weird idea that monument espousing religious precepts, based on a religious book, and funded by religious organizations is (by some amazing mental gymnastics) somehow not religious.

  • Tom Hanson

    LOL A fantasy: TST’s effort as religion wins first and then their lawyer has to fight on the fundy side against the ACLU effort as it moves on.

  • OR TST’s effort wins, then before the ACLU suit can resolve Arkansas votes to remove the 10c statue on their own to prevent the Baphomet installation and the ACLU is forced to withdraw their complaint, which is far more likely

  • Tom Hanson

    Thud. Thanks for holding off for a pleasant week week while I tripped the light fantastic.