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A bill that would allow for erecting a Ten Commandments monument on state Capitol grounds passed through a House committee Friday.

Eight private citizens spoke against Senate Bill 939, by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, before the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee cleared it with an 11-3 vote. Rep. John Walker, D-Little Rock; Rep. Stephen Magie, D-Conway; and Eddie Armstrong, D-North Little Rock, were the dissenting votes.

The bill requires the designing and construction of the monument to be done by private entities at no expense to the state.

“It would all be done by private donations, no tax dollars involved,” primary sponsor of the bill Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, said.

Walker wondered if the bill has the tendency to “prefer Christianity over over forms of religion that do not recognize the Ten Commandments.”

Hammer disagreed, saying, “There are many historical monuments around the Capitol, and we’re just giving room to another one that has significant historical value."

Hammer cited a similar bill the Oklahoma Legislature passed in 2009.

“It has withstood the scrutiny of not only state court but federal court,” he said.

The bill states that the placement of the monument “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,” but that “the placement of the monument … shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others.”

The bill now heads to the full House.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

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  • yungs
    March 27, 2015 at 11:56 a.m.

    A step in the right direction for our state to put God's laws first.

  • Slak
    March 27, 2015 at 12:03 p.m.

    which god? Thor is getting pissy about this. Watch out for thunderstorms.

  • JJHernandezIII
    March 27, 2015 at 12:05 p.m.

    “[T]he placement of the monument … shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others.” Give me a break; that's too cute by half! This bill needs to die. It'll only cause litigation and acrimony. The precedent upon which it is purportedly based is, from what I hear, easily distinguishable from another, more relevant, precedent cutting against displays like these. Overall, we're wasting our money, and look like a foolish state for it.

  • nwar
    March 27, 2015 at 12:23 p.m.

    The point of this would be what?? Hasn't the Legislature embarrassed the state enough yet?

  • ARMNAR
    March 27, 2015 at 12:27 p.m.

    Sad.

  • Thickerson
    March 27, 2015 at 12:28 p.m.

    This is great. Now if I forget a commandment I can just get in my car and drive down to Little Rock for a refresher. I wonder, though, which ten they will use--Catholic, Protestant, or Hebrew. (I know, that's a silly question.)

  • mrkohl
    March 27, 2015 at 12:37 p.m.

    I guess we have no other important issues facing the state? This is just a waste of our time and money. We're even paying them more for doing less!

  • Kharma
    March 27, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

    And when Muslims want to put up a memorial with Koranic text related to one or more of their religious dictates, and in the same area, what will be the response? Should a memorial with Hindu commands to their fathful be erected nearby?

    Why can purported Chritians not keep their beliefs out of our government? The founding fathers who generally professed Christian beliefs were smart enough to institute separation of church and state. Are our current legislators so mentally deficient that they cannot grasp the concept?

    Yes, our laws do derive in part from Christian dogma, and as well from the laws of other religions. We get that. If we have a Christian monument then we should have monuments as well to the Code of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (c. 2050 BC), the Laws of Eshnunna (c. 1930 BC), the codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (c. 1870 BC), and Hammurabi's Code (c. 1800 BC). Maybe we should include as well the Hittite laws, the Assyrian laws, and Mosaic Law.

    Practice your preferred religion freely at home and church and leave it out of the public domain.

  • 23cal
    March 27, 2015 at 2:45 p.m.

    kharma:
    About "Are our current legislators so mentally deficient that they cannot grasp the concept?"
    Some of them are indeed so mentally deficient. The rest just don't care and prefer pandering to their far right base at taxpayer expense to respecting the established jurisprudence of the Constitutional separation of church and state.
    *
    Get ready to piss away more tax dollars on ANOTHER lawsuit over bad legislation. How many does this make?

  • ToTheLeft
    March 27, 2015 at 3:17 p.m.

    How ironic. They waste time about a Ten Commandments memorial while wasting more time trying to exclude gay people from basic rights.

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