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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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Archived Comments

  • Slak
    March 27, 2015 at 3:34 p.m.

    Has anybody read the law? Is it easier for the Baptist's commandments to go up? Are atheist's commandments forbidden from display? Wicca is big, they could come up with a monument in heartbeat - does this law make it harder for them?
    If the law is egalitarian, what's the problem? No tax money is required, just a spot on the Capitol grounds.

  • 23cal
    March 27, 2015 at 3:53 p.m.

    Slak......I have read the law.
    *
    As far as others being forbidden from display, the government is required to be neutral regarding religion. If they open it up for everyone to put up a religious display, as they have been forced to do at Christmas, no problem. If they put up displays (or direct displays be put up) for all religions, no problem.
    *
    When they pick out one, then there is a problem.
    *
    Also, the given reason----because the Big Ten are the basis of our laws in this country----is hogwash. It is flat, plain, not true and anyone who can read should be able to figure that out. That claim is nothing but cover to push a theocratic religious agenda.

  • Packman
    March 27, 2015 at 4:28 p.m.

    This is a terrible bill that Asa must veto. Separation of church and state is fundamental to the exercise of religious freedom.

  • Kharma
    March 27, 2015 at 6:10 p.m.

    All good points. Freedom of religion goes hand in hand with freedom from religion. Persons are always free to practice their religion at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place, and in the appropriate manner.

  • Kharma
    March 27, 2015 at 6:18 p.m.

    As an aside, perhaps dyslexic atheists should be allowed the space for a monument proclaiming their unique viewpoint: "There is no Dog".

  • edo1962
    March 27, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

    This is great! It reminds us when we put God first, it's a win, win!
    The 10 Comandments are common sense commandments. No one should object to these. Not one of these causes harm to anyone.

  • oldpapa
    March 27, 2015 at 7:47 p.m.

    I am 100% with Karma, this along with the Religious Protection bill is complete rubbish.

  • Kharma
    March 27, 2015 at 8:20 p.m.

    FYI folks there are only three "Commandments" that have anything whatsoever to do with our modern statutory laws: 1) you shall not murder, 2) you shall not steal, and 3) you shall not bear false witness. Any argument that our laws come from the TCs is specious at best.

  • Hogwild80
    March 27, 2015 at 9 p.m.

    When is the Republican led government going to get out of our lives. They keep advocating for less government but keep involving themselves in places they do not belong. What next, a statement outlining Shari Law erected next to the Ten Commandments?

  • FreeSpiritMan
    March 27, 2015 at 9:16 p.m.

    I want one with verses from the Talmud and I am not Jewish.

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