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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

  • pravda
    July 19, 2018 at 9:14 p.m.

    JESUS IS GOD, HIS WORD IS TRUE, AND THAT=WILL NEVER CHANGE

  • pravda
    July 19, 2018 at 9:18 p.m.

    JAKE, YOU ARE A LIAR, JUST LIKE YOUR GOD, LUCIFER, YOU ARE DUAL-MINDED AND FUL OF HATE AND YOUR THOUGHTS ARE PERVERTED BY THE EVIL ONE, JAKE, YOU ARE AN OLD MAN, I LOOKED YOU UP ONLINE, YOU ARE CLOSE TO THE END, SOON YOU WILL SEE THE FACE OF GOD, AND THEN SPEND ETERNITY ALONE, IN HELL

  • ARMNAR
    July 19, 2018 at 10:44 p.m.

    Caps lock is how we know someone is batsh!t crazy.

    You're no Christian, JJ. Thought you should know.

    Fun to have another troll to toy with, however. Welcome!

  • dearlo
    July 19, 2018 at 11:32 p.m.

    ARMNAR you use caplocks as well as the right to use them ifyou have bad eyes. Even other handicaped people may need to use all caps. SU, Dbo.

  • dearlo
    July 19, 2018 at 11:36 p.m.

    You can't reason with some braindead people. Most of them will be leaving soon. Sorta like Huckabee and his minion's. Never to return to our fine state!

  • ARMNAR
    July 20, 2018 at 12:08 a.m.

    dearlo, JJ didn't use caps lock until 9:14PM. Was his eyesight afflicted by The Devil at 9:13?

    LOL.

  • pravda
    July 22, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

    YOUR PAGES?????????so these are your pages, fyi= the liberals feel they own this paper, so those freedom lovers wishing to post life-giving messages, do it quietly

  • ARMNAR
    July 22, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    lol@"life-giving"

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