Today's Paper Search Latest stories Traffic Legislature Drivetime Mahatma Newsletters Most commented Obits Weather Puzzles + Games
story.lead_photo.caption Representatives from PureFlix Entertainment and GND Media Group on Thursday, July 6, 2017, present state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, with a $25,000 check to replace a Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas. - Photo by Emma Pettit

Executive producers of the Christian God’s Not Dead movie series donated $25,000 Thursday to replace a Ten Commandments monument after the original was smashed less than a day after its installation on state Capitol grounds.

A 6-foot-tall stone inscribed with the 10 biblical laws was erected near the Arkansas Supreme Court building on June 27. Early the next day, Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren allegedly drove a Dodge Dart into the monument, which toppled and shattered the granite.

The 32-year-old live-streamed a video of himself ramming the stone on social media, police said. He was arrested on scene and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Photos by Emma Pettit
Click here for larger versions

The original God’s Not Dead follows a college student who argues about the existence of God with an unbelieving professor. The follow-up, God’s Not Dead 2, was filmed in Little Rock in 2015, the same year state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, sponsored a bill to get the Ten Commandments tribute installed.

God's Not Dead 3 will be filming in Little Rock in the fall, Rapert said.

At Thursday’s news conference, representatives from PureFlix Entertainment and GND Media Group joined Rapert at the Capitol rotunda to present him with a $25,000 donation.

Bob Katz and Troy Duhon, executive producers for the series, contacted Gov. Asa Hutchinson after the monument’s destruction and offered the money, according to a news release.

2014's God’s Not Dead and its sequel, God’s Not Dead 2, grossed more than $80 million combined, according to Box Office Mojo, a movie revenue tracking website.

Duhon spoke briefly from the podium at Thursday's news conference and said his son asked him the previous night why it was important to rebuild the tribute.

“Tell me what America would look like if Americans honored the Ten Commandments,” Duhon told him.

Rapert told reporters at a news conference June 28 that he had no intent to use taxpayer dollars for the new stone. The original was paid for by $26,000 in private funds raised by the American History & Heritage Foundation, which Rapert created.

Including the $25,000 gift, roughly $55,000 in total has been raised in private donations since the monument was destroyed, the senator said Thursday. People have sent in money online, through a fundraising website, and given by mail and in person, he said.

After thanking donors and several Arkansas lawmakers, Rapert told the audience the new monument would likely be outfitted with “aesthetically pleasing” security of some kind. That someone would drive to Little Rock and ram the monument was something "nobody could have foreseen," he said.

The American History and Heritage Foundation is “ready for any cost that is needed” to support the monument, Rapert said. Any excess money will be funneled to other foundation-approved projects, he said.

The senator said he has been contacted by people in other states who want to erect similar displays. Arkansas' stone will be ready for installation in about two months, Rapert said. The new and old monuments will be the same “right down to the granite that was used,” he said.

Rapert’s legislative push for a Ten Commandments monument triggered a debate on the appropriateness of religious symbols on government property. Several secular groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Satanic Temple, have protested the monument and promised lawsuits. Those lawsuits are on hold while the site for the stone is bare.

To address those critics, Rapert introduced Michael Berry, deputy general counsel for First Liberty, a Texas-based legal organization that litigates religious issues. Berry said some people have asked if allowing a Christian symbol on state grounds will open the door to other emblems or statues that are "inappropriate."

"The answer to that is an emphatic no," Berry said.


Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments
  • FireEyes
    July 6, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

    Awesome news on both counts.

    Now I have to wonder just where are all those that falsely claimed public money was involved. Not one thin dime of public money went into EITHER one. You don't like it there, don't look.

  • WGT
    July 6, 2017 at 12:46 p.m.

    I do not condone Rapert's willful indescretion putting up a private religious symbol on public government property. I do not condone what Reed did to private property. Both of these actions clearly indicate how poisonous religion is to humans.

  • mrcharles
    July 6, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

    Oh, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm goody!

    If you cannot see, my hand is raised for a gratis appearance as a participant in the film. I will have a few questions to ask of the divines, just to clarify a few textual variants I am concerned with.

    Cannot the film be based on Job , which some sons of man or sons of g-d tell me may be the oldest story in the ancient book collection no one can really agree on. I will accept the divine counsel role of the adversary, who acting under the complete authority and permission and power of you know, up there boss of bosses. I will allow my phone gps to tell where i am wandering so that I will not be asked , where I be.

    We could have rapter man play job for the first half and then someone, lets say a more decent person for last half when job gets all his stuff back and is consoled for his little experiment, which I calculate is more than the dollar that the brothers bet in Trading places.

    If I cant be job I want to be the voice of the whole ghost, or handle the snakes or hand those drinks that will not hurt you , so it says, to rapter man to show us real faith. I of course will do nothing to break the law if such actions in the book indicate that , like priest giving possibly unfaithful women abortions or such.

    Is this a play on words, you know the trinity and such that was added and then taken out some bibbles?

  • TimberTopper
    July 6, 2017 at 2:02 p.m.

    Rupert needs to hit up Hobby Lobby. He could maybe pray'em out for say another 25.

  • RBear
    July 6, 2017 at 3:03 p.m.

    FireEyes, it's on public property and must be maintained using public money. Are you telling me the protection detail for it was also privately funded? Regardless, this monument should not be on the grounds of the state capitol. As I've said before, if Thomas Jefferson were alive he'd be behind the wheel driving the truck and John Adams would be in the passenger's seat taking the selfie of them running over it.

  • wildblueyonder
    July 6, 2017 at 6:37 p.m.

    The master of blasphemy.....woodchuck. He really thinks he's funny...but he ain't.

  • HM2
    July 6, 2017 at 8:27 p.m.

    MRCHARLES; You sir are nothing but a big blowhard who likes to take up a lot of space in the comment page and say absolutely nothing. get a life.

  • Packman
    July 6, 2017 at 9:44 p.m.

    Hey gohogs and HM2 - You must be fluent in Crazy to comprehend mrcharles. good luck with that.

  • REV2018
    July 6, 2017 at 10:02 p.m.

    Instead of the 10 commandments, how about a statue of Jason Rapert bent over with his head implanted deep within his anal cavity. Titled:
    Jason Rapert- Blind Persistence

  • wildblueyonder
    July 7, 2017 at 8:23 a.m.

    Does rev 2018 stand for "revolution 2018"? It seems like that to me, this individual seems filled with hatred and vulgarity.