After a Christian man drove his car into the Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas Capitol, destroying the structure, it’s not surprising that many people want to chip in for a new one.
But why merely donate when you can get positive press and subtly suggest that this is an example of Christian persecution?
That’s why this news doesn’t surprise me one bit.
One of the most recent donations in support of the monument came from the executive producers of the God’s Not Dead movies, the second of which was filmed at the capitol building. Troy Duhon and Robert Katz contacted the governor’s office and pledged $25,000 to the state.
“They just felt compelled that they wanted to be a part of helping us,” said Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded the push to place the monument on capitol grounds. “Their donation will ensure that the monument itself goes up and hopefully with the extra donations that we have, we’ll be able to do whatever security measure is necessary.”
I don’t doubt the sincerity, but this will certainly endear the filmmakers even more with the conservative Christian fan base — something that will inevitably help them when promoting their next film.
When factoring in the additional smaller donations, the $25,000 from the God’s Not Dead people should be more than enough money for a new monument to be built.
Though I am wondering if the original monument was insured. If it was, do they need any money?State Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded this whole project, reshared his original GoFundMe page after the vandalism… and that’s also puzzling. It has a goal of $100,000, which is far more than the $17,635 he estimated the monument would cost and far more than the roughly $26,000 it actually cost. More than $54,000 has been pledged in total, with approximately 660 out of 766 donations being made in the past two days. The campaign had raised about $23,000 before last week.
Rapert says the extra funds “will be used to fulfill our stated mission to educate people on American History and heritage.” That includes additional monuments in other places. But it’s wildly misleading since I think most donors believe they’re contributing for a replacement monument in Arkansas. (I’ve asked Rapert for comment on all of this.)
None of that, of course, takes into consideration how much Arkansas taxpayers will have to pay when the state loses the lawsuits that have been promised by the ACLU, The Satanic Temple, and the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
For now, however, the critics are holding off on those lawsuits… since there’s nothing to sue over.
“[Michael Tate Reed] didn’t help us by knocking down the monument,” said Anne Orsi, the vice president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. “We wanted our lawsuit to go forward.”
“Without the monument standing, we’ve got nothing to argue about,” Orsi said.
That’s fine. The church/state separation side can wait. No amount of money raised by Christians will change the fact that this Ten Commandments monument is illegal. They can plate the damn thing in gold with all the money they’re raising and it’s still going to come down in due time.
If this is how Christians want to waste their money, so be it. I’m just saying they’d all be better off buying a book explaining about how the Establishment Clause works.
I asked Lucien Greaves, the spokesperson for The Satanic Temple, what he made of the $25,000 donation:
I look forward to the next God’s Not Dead movie in which the story-tellers hopefully reconcile the apparent disconnect between all their previous arguments for Religious Liberty and Free Expression with their support for an exclusive religious monument on public grounds.
And I’m sure that film will be out by Easter.
(Image via GoFundMe)