Despite Approving Ten Commandments Monument on Capitol Grounds, Arkansas Rejects Hindu Statue August 23, 2015

Despite Approving Ten Commandments Monument on Capitol Grounds, Arkansas Rejects Hindu Statue

Earlier this year, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill allowing a Ten Commandments monument to go up on the Capitol grounds. As we saw in Oklahoma, though, that may not pass legal muster.

One of the questions church/state separation activists are trying to figure out is whether other monuments will be allowed to go up as well. The Satanic Temple, for example, has already said they want their statue of Baphomet (below) alongside the Christian monument.

But wanting it to go up is different from actually applying for the spot.

That’s what the Universal Society of Hinduism’s Rajan Zed did earlier this month. Just as he had requested in Oklahoma, he wanted a statue of Hanuman to go up in Arkansas and he promised to cover the costs for it.

That proposal has now been rejected on a technicality:

A rejection letter, dated Aug. 17, told the group to either apply through the General Assembly for permission or to submit an application to the Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, which has jurisdiction over such requests. Kelly Boyd, the chief deputy secretary of state, wrote in the letter that the office was involved in the process for the Ten Commandments statue only because the legislature had mandated its placement on the property.

It’s ridiculous to force a minority group to have to go through the legislature to get a statue up. The moment the elected officials voted in support of a Christian monument at the Capitol, they were basically approving all other religious monuments at the same time. Hopefully, Zed will try again.

What about The Satanic Temple? Spokesperson Lucien Greaves confirmed to me that they still plan on formally applying for a spot. He also had some choice words for Arkansas officials:

We haven’t submitted an application yet, but we will shortly, and we have committed legal counsel to ensure that our application is properly processed.

The Legislature has already spoken: they have approved the Capitol as a forum for private monument donations and the Legislature is not at liberty to engage in viewpoint discrimination to pick and choose their own preferred expressions of religious or political speech. If they failed to realize this when they approved a monument of the 10 Commandments, they have no business holding a post of public office at all.

Those officials will have to say yes to these non-Christian monuments or risk losing a costly lawsuit. Either way, they brought it upon themselves by trying to promote Christianity through the government.

(Image via Kimberly Danner)

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