VIDEO, PHOTOS: Ten Commandments monument installed on state Capitol grounds

Employees from Wilbert Memorials put finishing touches on the Ten Commandments statue on state Capitol grounds Tuesday morning.
Employees from Wilbert Memorials put finishing touches on the Ten Commandments statue on state Capitol grounds Tuesday morning.

A stone Ten Commandments monument was affixed in its home on state Capitol grounds Tuesday morning after a years-long debate regarding its fitness for public property.

A small crowd stood near a walkway that leads to the Justice Building to watch the 6-foot tall monolith be lifted and lowered into place. Etched on the statue's granite face are the Ten Commandments as well as an eye to represent the all-seeing eye of God, an eagle atop a flag and Hebrew stars.

Photos by Emma Pettit
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Among the observers was state Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, who sponsored Act 1231 of 2015, which required the monument be erected somewhere on Capitol grounds.

The Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission approved the monument's location in May. It was paid for by the American Heritage and History Foundation.

Rapert's push to install a Christian marker at the Capitol ignited a two-year-long debate on the appropriateness of religious symbols on public property. The senator previously told reporters that the U.S. Supreme Court has its own depictions of the Ten Commandments decorating its building.

Defenders of religious secularism submitted applications in protest. Among those submitted were plans for a brick wall as well as a proposal for a Baphomet statue, a satanic-winged goat deity. Neither was approved.

Scott Stewart, a senior pastor at the Agape Church in west Little Rock, stopped by on the sunny morning because his church raised donations to fund the monument.

“As opposed to removing something, [Arkansas] is marking a trend in the nation by replacing something,” Stewart said as he watched workers wipe dust from the statue’s base. The pastor said he liked the look of the stone, though would have made it more “contemporary” if he designed it himself.

Each line and design was sandblasted into 4,000-pound slab of mahogany granite, which hails from Milbank, S.D., said Gary Mosier, sales manager for Wilbert Memorials, based in Parsons, Kan.

The design of the Ten Commandments statue comes from Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 film with the same title, Mosier said. DeMille advertised the movie by unveiling granite carvings of the biblical laws across the country. Mosier’s company made a copy of the original carving, which was erected in Texas and carved by hand, he said.

Wilbert Memorials employees Richard Nance and Mark Giltner high-fived after the 2-ton slab descended onto the setting compound without making a mess. Nance shaved the dried mixture off the base as Giltner spritzed rubbing alcohol onto the stone’s face.

Glitter estimated that he’s installed about 20 other Ten Commandments statues during his career, mostly in Oklahoma.

Nance, still a “greenhorn,” wiped his hands on his shirt and admired his work.

“Practice makes perfect, you know what I mean. Looks good, though,” he said.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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