SEN. JASON RAPERT: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette Condemns the Ten Commandments

After multiple personal insults printed by your newspaper and turning the cheek several times, it is time to set the record straight. Error left unanswered sometimes gets mistaken for the truth.

Of all the things I ever thought the Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial board would ever decide to oppose, I would never have imagined they would actually dare come out vengefully against honoring the Ten Commandments. In various editorial columns and articles since 2015 they have called the Ten Commandments monument a “graven image”, an “eyesore”, a “garish monument” and used general derogatory comments to intimidate me, the Arkansas legislature and Governor Asa Hutchinson for passing ACT 1231 of 2015 to honor the Ten Commandments as the historical moral foundation of law.

Of course dear readers, they would have you to believe that this is all my fault and they have engaged in an effort to demonize me personally for being the prime sponsor of the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Act. Well my fellow Arkansans – I am guilty as charged for supporting the Ten Commandments and write today to take full responsibility for being so bold as to believe that our state and our nation would be better off if people simply honored, followed and adhered to the Ten Commandments given by God Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Before I lay out the reasons why I am still fully confident that the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument is the right thing to do, let me say that it is very revealing and interesting to review another column the editors once penned about me on March 18, 2013 entitled “Jason Rapert on the Case”. They wrote to applaud my efforts to rein in the now convicted felon and former Arkansas State Treasurer Martha Shofner (D) and the treasury reform bill I passed. They had much nicer things to say about me then including that I was “LIKE the hero in a dime-store novel, state Senator and general reformer Jason Rapert has arrived on the scene to save the fair damsel called the Public Interest.” They went even further to write “Happily, the state has a guardian of its interests in Jason Rapert, R-Integrity, who proposes to recruit a whole posse of good, experienced professionals to police Ms. Shoffner at the state treasurer’s office…” and gave me the nice title of “Rough Rider Rapert”. They didn’t stop there as they showered me with more nice compliments stating “but thank goodness there’s a Jason Rapert in the Legislature to spearhead reforms like this”. And finally they said, “the public can be grateful a state senator like Jason Rapert is awake-and ready to ride to the rescue, bills blazing.” But now that I have taken a stand for the Ten Commandments and other issues they apparently now oppose – like marriage between one man and one woman – suddenly I am now called all sorts of nasty names by Paul Greenberg, John Brummett and the editorial board itself. This proves to me that not even the editors of what once we called with affection a newspaper, can help themselves in the hateful political environment that we now live in. They praise me personally on my efforts to do something which they support, but they turn and try to demonize me personally on an issue they oppose. We deserve to have the editors of our statewide newspaper hold a higher standard in which issues can be debated forcefully without resorting to the nasty tabloid mentality of personal destruction that permeates our culture today. Editors – you may oppose my views, disagree with 99 out of 135 legislators, the governor of our state and a large majority of Arkansas people who believe in honoring the Ten Commandments, but you can maintain mutual respect for us all while disagreeing with us on this issue. Shame on you.

This is the original, unedited version of this column. Click here to read the version that ran in print.

My, how times have surely changed at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Not only has it now become fashionable for them to criticize and attack people who support the Ten Commandments, now it appears they have decided to use the tactics and arguments of the secular humanists, atheists, ultra liberals and even the satanists by demonizing the recognition of longstanding aspects of tradition, the moral foundations of law and even reference the Ten Commandments as a "graven image". Imagine what Moses might say. It is almost as if the editors forget who buys their newspaper in Arkansas. If I were the general manager of a statewide newspaper in Arkansas, I sure would not want to insult practically 95% of the good people of the Natural State who believe in God and country and have shown they have a willingness to take a stand on those issues.

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing a monument of the Ten Commandments to remain on the Texas State Capitol grounds in the case of Van Orden v. Perry. It so happens that the Arkansas Ten Commandments monument that will soon be installed is an exact replica of the Texas monument and many other such monuments that are standing today around our nation on public property. Based on published reports available to anyone who cares to check it out, there are approximately 117 Ten Commandments monuments given by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles sitting on public property in America today located at or near state capitols, city halls, municipal buildings, courthouses, parks, war memorials, police and fire stations, schools and other public lands.

Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion in the Van Orden v. Perry case and eloquently laid out some very important information pertaining to the history of the Ten Commandments being honored in our nation:

“In this case we are faced with a display of the Ten Commandments on government property outside the Texas State Capitol. Such acknowledgments of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our Nation’s heritage are common throughout America. We need only look within our own Courtroom. Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze. Representations of the Ten Commandments adorn the metal gates lining the north and south sides of the Courtroom as well as the doors leading into the Courtroom. Moses also sits on the exterior east facade of the building holding the Ten Commandments tablets.

Similar acknowledgments can be seen throughout a visitor’s tour of our Nation’s Capitol. For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897. And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8). A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the National Archives. Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled “The Spirit of Law” has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments. So too a 24-foot-tall sculpture, depicting, among other things, the Ten Commandments and a cross, stands outside the federal courthouse that houses both the Court of Appeals and the District Court for the District of Columbia. Moses is also prominently featured in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives.”

There you have it my fellow Arkansans, the United States Supreme Court has depictions of the Ten Commandments and Moses within their chamber. The U.S. House of Representatives has Moses facing the Speaker, looking over the proceedings of Congress and the Ten Commandments are depicted in the floor of the National Archives which you must pass over to view the Declaration of Independence. Many references to the Ten Commandments have been cited in Supreme Court rulings and our Founding Fathers cited the Ten Commandments as a building block of American Jurisprudence. How is it that the Arkansas Democrat Gazette summarily castigates me and others for sponsoring a bill to erect a monument honoring the historical significance of the Ten Commandments amongst the various other monuments on our State Capitol grounds? I don't see them attacking the Civil War monument honoring the Confederacy.

If the Ten Commandments are good enough for the U.S. Supreme Court building, they are good enough for the Arkansas State Capitol grounds. The odd opinion the editors seem to have on this issue is really just another symptom of the times in which we live. In fact, political correctness has crept into every facet of our society and has made it quite difficult for people of principle, faith and civility. The lack of reverence for just about anything we once held dear in America has become fashionable to the detriment of civilized society. For many years, we could count on messages of significance from editorial boards, but the sharp minds and clear thinking of days gone by are sadly - well, they are gone. News isn't news anymore. News is now opinion columns packaged as news. What once was a free and fair press is now mostly a weapon of political manipulation wielded by political activists who never ran for an elected office so they throw darts at anyone who happens to be an elected official.

Dear editors, the good people of Arkansas overwhelmingly support the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Act and honoring the great history and traditions of our great Republic. We are not taking the Decalogue down from the U.S. Supreme Court building, erasing Moses from the U.S. House of Representatives and we are definitely putting them up on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds – the law says so. A majority of us still believe in taking a stand for what is right and in a day and time when some of you may not have reverence for the things that have made America exceptional, thank God Almighty there are still many more of us that do.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette editorial board is free to disagree with the majority of Arkansans, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Arkansas legislature and me on this issue. That is your right. It is a wonderful free country in which we all have a right to our opinion and you have a right to yours. When the good people of Arkansas visit our beautiful state capitol they will be greeted by “In God We Trust” on the walls of the Senate and House of Representatives chambers and very soon they will also get to see a monument honoring the Ten Commandments. I am proud of our state for standing up for what we believe in and politicians who actually vote the way the folks back home want them to.

God bless Arkansas and God bless America.

Sen. Jason Rapert (R)

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