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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert speaks at the unveiling of a Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock on Thursday, April 26, 2018. The display replaces a monument that was destroyed nearly a year ago. Rapert sponsored the legislation requiring the privately funded monument on state Capitol grounds. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)

LITTLE ROCK — Opponents of a Ten Commandments display at the Arkansas state Capitol filed federal lawsuits Wednesday to have the monument removed, arguing it's an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government

Separate complaints were filed challenging the display, which was installed on the Capitol grounds last month. A 2015 law required the state to allow the privately funded monument. The monument was reinstalled last month after the original version was destroyed by a man who crashed his car into it.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas sued on behalf of four Arkansas residents — three who identify themselves as agnostics and one as atheist — who are members of a walking and cycling club whose routes include the state Capitol grounds. The group asked that the monument and the law requiring its installation be ruled unconstitutional.

"Viewing the context surrounding both the Act and the resulting Ten Commandments Monument makes it likely that they will be perceived by adherents of the majority religious denominations as an endorsement of their beliefs, and by nonadherents as a disapproval of their individual religious choices," the group said in its lawsuit.

The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of a coalition that includes the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Arkansas Humanist Association, as well as a Methodist minister and a rabbi who objected to the monument's display.

[DOCUMENTS: Read lawsuits seeking to have the Ten Commandments monument removed]

A spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, who is named as the defendant in both groups' lawsuits, declined to comment on the lawsuit. The lawmaker who led the push to put the Ten Commandments at the Capitol said he's confident the display will be upheld.

"It is time for the people of this nation to stand together and defend our history and heritage," Republican Sen. Jason Rapert said in a statement. "I am committed to defending this law, I am committed to defending the U.S. Constitution, and I am committed to defending the Ten Commandments monument."

Last June, the original monument was outside of the state Capitol less than 24 hours before it was demolished. Michael Tate Reed, the man accused of driving his car into it, apologized in 2015 for also destroying a Ten Commandments monument outside Oklahoma's Capitol. Reed was charged with criminal mischief in Arkansas, but a judge in November found him mentally unfit for trial and ordered Reed to be held by the state hospital for further evaluation.

The 6,000-pound, 6-foot-tall granite display is now flanked by four concrete barriers intended to prevent its destruction.

Arkansas' monument is a replica of a display at the Texas Capitol that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. The court that year struck down Ten Commandments displays in two Kentucky courthouses.

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


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Archived Comments

  • Packman
    May 23, 2018 at 1:37 p.m.

    I hope the lawsuit is successful and the court orders the monument removed and placed squarely up Jason Rapert's a$$.

  • GeneralMac
    May 23, 2018 at 1:41 p.m.

    Packman..........if no public money was spent, why should it bother an atheist like you ?

    You can't claim your God was slighted.

  • GeneralMac
    May 23, 2018 at 1:42 p.m.

    Does atheist Packman have a problem with spending money that has .."In God we trust "..printed on it "

  • Arkie2017
    May 23, 2018 at 1:58 p.m.

    I agree. Freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment does not mean the Christian religion. We have 200 religions and we also have people who choose not to have any one religion which is the freedom the 1st Amendment allows us. Also separation of Church in State is being violated with this being placed in front of our Capitol bldg when it belongs in front of the appropriate church. Once again we are seeing religion try to assume control of government but we're supposed to be a democracy not a theocracy. The radicals in the Evangelical movement want to control the government and the narrative because they only care about bringing about the end times which is why they supported the change in Israel, but that's another subject for another day. Suffice it to say I agree this violates the US Constitution but then that's not gotten in the way of many laws in this country of late with the sole exception of the 2nd because of powerful special interest protection aka NRA and weapons manufacturers. People better wake up to all the constitutional violations going on. I just purchased 100 pocket constitutions for distribution and I urge people to start reading it and paying attention. If you oppose the constitution you are NOT a patriot.

  • GeneralMac
    May 23, 2018 at 2:04 p.m.

    Does the constitution give a person the right to choose what bathroom to use based on how they "feel" ?

  • hah406
    May 23, 2018 at 2:11 p.m.

    I have no problems with Christianity or the Ten Commandments. I find the commandments to be very good guidance on how to live my life and conduct myself. I do have a problem with the monument on the Capitol grounds IF they are not going to allow monuments to other religions on the grounds as well. That would be favoring a specific religion (Christianity and Jewish) over others, and would seem to be brushing up against the law as I see it.

  • 3WorldState1
    May 23, 2018 at 2:13 p.m.

    "Religion is man made; Christianity God made" LOL Well, we know now not to take what you say seriously. That is some BSC statement right there. Sounds like AFR BS.
    In God We Trust was another douche bad political move in the 50's (I think). It wasn't on the money or in the Pledge of Allegiance until placed there at a much later date. It should be removed.
    And I don't want the other religions represented either but it sounds like as long as some Muslims fund a Allah monument, you're OK with it sitting on the Capital grounds?

  • Packman
    May 23, 2018 at 2:15 p.m.

    Hey GeneralMac - Not sure if I'm an atheist, just your basic non-believer of the existence of a supreme being and either a heaven or hell afterlife. Regardless, I was raised a Methodist and went to church a lot. Based on those days I believe Christianity (the teachings of Jesus and those 10 Commandments) is best spread through positive example and not by brute force as is Rapert's bent. While I believe much of the Bible is make believe intended to keep us humans from taking survival of the fittest to its ultimate conclusion I also believe there are some really good rules in it for a civil society as well.
    I guess what I'm saying is it's not about the public money so much as it's about the importance of CLEAR separation of church and state.

  • GeneralMac
    May 23, 2018 at 2:17 p.m.

    3World State............are you a hypocrite by spending money that has .."in God we trust"...printed on it ?

  • RobertBolt
    May 23, 2018 at 2:22 p.m.

    GeneralMac will have no problem spending his Social(ist) Security dollars.