Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert Isn’t Done Making Himself Look Like a Fool October 28, 2017

Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert Isn’t Done Making Himself Look Like a Fool

I mentioned yesterday that I had an online run-in with Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert.

He had raised over $81,000 for a Ten Commandments monument outside the State Capitol building, even though an identical monument cost way, way, way less than that. In addition to the fundraiser, producers of the film God’s Not Dead gave a $25,000 donation, making the fundraiser even less necessary. And it’s entirely possible Rapert had insurance on the original monument that was destroyed and which he is now replacing.

So what was he going to do with the extra money? That’s what I asked him. And instead of giving me an answer, he responded with a veiled threat telling me to “be truthful or you will find out what real journalism can accomplish.”

Yesterday, Rapert continued lashing out at my completely reasonable question with a video that was just one absurd argument after another.


Let’s go through them.

He spends the beginning of the video laying out some facts, like how the state legislature passed a law permitting the Ten Commandments monument outside the Capitol, as if that makes it okay. He forgets that the Supreme Court has already ruled similar monuments illegal. He also name-checked the non-profit group sponsoring the monument, the American History & Heritage Foundation.

Then, at the 2:50 mark, things got weird.

… this is where the Friendly Atheist, as he calls himself, makes his mistake. The American History & Heritage Foundation is a non-profit started here in the state of Arkansas. Its mission is not just one single project, sir, and that’s where you folks that are trying to be journalists, but you’re really activists, that’s where you have a problem.

Ignoring the non-sequitur there, Rapert is suggesting the extra money raised would go toward additional Ten Commandment monuments. That’s a fair answer and he could have just told me the other night. But he didn’t.

I’d just like to mention that I offered that possibility in my previous post. I also noted that Rapert posted an update to his GoFundMe campaign suggesting all the money was going toward only one monument, which is why it was confusing.

So my “mistake” was that I asked a simple question to gain clarity… and Rapert assumed I was playing some sort of weird game of Christian Persecution.

You have to decide: Are you going to be a journalist or are you actually going to be an activist? And what the “friendly” atheist — his mistake is that he is not very good at masquerading himself. He is an activist with an agenda. And their agenda is that they hate the fact that we have, in this country, many references to the Judeo-Christian principles and foundation of the country.

I had no idea my agenda was to hate our nation’s history.

And I’m still trying to figure out why my very public atheism means I’m not allowed to ask an elected official a simple question about the money he’s raising from his taxpayer-support platform.

But I guess Rapert figured me out. The secret is a secret no more. I’m an atheist, everyone. *phew* Glad to finally get that off my chest. I hope no one figured it out on their own.

So what does Rapert have to say about these religious “references” underlying the foundation of our nation?

The National Motto is “In God We Trust,” which by the way, the American History & Heritage Foundation is also being very supportive of that, particular bill that was pass in the state of Arkansas which puts up the National Motto in schools all over this state. And so what Mr. Mehta is doing in making a mistake is the fact that he just isn’t very good at trying to spin his tale to try to bring accusations and allegations against people.

The bottom line that you, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, and all of you need to know is that the Ten Commandments Monument Act was passed by the people of Arkansas…

Our nation’s (unofficial) motto since its founding was “e pluribus unum.” It was only in the 1950s that we adopted “In God We Trust” as the official motto, put that phrase on our money, added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, began “prayer breakfasts” on Capitol Hill, installed a prayer room in the Capitol, etc.

Those were political acts in response to “godless” Soviet Communism. They had nothing to do with our independence or how our Founders wanted to run the country.

In essence, Rapert is pointing to a political act from decades ago as evidence for why he should be allowed to go through with another purely political act today, wrongly claiming the Founders would be totally with him.

I didn’t spin anything. I didn’t make accusations or allegations. I literally asked some basic questions. And Rapert went bananas.

It only got worse when he created a straw man of what I was asking for.

… in terms of people that have sent donations to the American History & Heritage Foundation, sir, those are well-documented through our accountants, and also has the oversight of a board, and also GoFundMe has a complete accounting of all of the folks that have donated to that. But as you know, you don’t have access to that because it is a non-profit organization, sir, and an atheist demanding that anyone turn over their information to them, that’s not your business

This one’s just plain stupid.

I never requested, nor do I want, some list of everyone who donated to the campaign. I don’t want their emails. I don’t care how much they gave. It’s irrelevant.

My question — and I can’t believe I have to say this again — was what Rapert planned to do with the money he raised since he took in way more than he needed to replace his Christian display.

Answering that doesn’t require giving up any private donor information.

What you’re upset about the fact is that the people of this country are tired of seeing all of you try to cram your beliefs down our throats. Yes, that’s exactly right.

Stop foisting your beliefs on us, says the guy who’s about the install a Christian monument outside a State Capitol.

No one’s forcing anyone to be an atheist. This debate — and the forthcoming lawsuit — has always been about how Rapert is violating the First Amendment. Unlike him, we actually care about the Constitution.

… Because the majority of the people in America and the majority of the people of Arkansas still believe in traditional American values. We still believe in our Founding Fathers, which, by the way, in 1774, when the First Continental Congress met — and I hope that Mr. Seidel or whatever his name of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is listening to this as well — the very first meeting of the Continental Congress in 1774, they read Psalm 35 and spent hours praying, sir. That’s exactly right…

“Traditional American values” must be Rapert’s euphemism for “Christian Lives Matter.” Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and atheists have no place in his vision for the country.

And about that Continental Congress story… Andrew Seidel did, in fact, hear what Rapert said.

Let’s just say Rapert’s a fool to get into a battle of the brains with someone who actually did his homework. I urge you to click Seidel’s tweet below and read the full thread to see Rapert’s argument completely dismantled.

Damn, that’s a good takedown.

Rapert wasn’t done saying dumb things.

… And as far as the Ten Commandments monument is concerned, you know that you missed the mark when you attack the state of Arkansas, and any other place where you attack, because the fact is there are many references in the body of work in this country that refer to the impact of the Ten Commandments on the development of American jurisprudence and Western civilization.

Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. All of these

Whoa whoa whoa! You can’t say the Ten Commandments influenced our law and then stop at the only two commandments that matter.

Notice he said nothing about obeying other gods, making false idols, taking God’s name in vain, keeping the Sabbath holy, honoring your parents, adultery, lying, and coveting. Because some of those things aren’t illegal on their own (even if they’re unethical) and many of them are strictly about promoting Bronze Age mythology.

There’s a reason our legal system isn’t built on the Ten Commandments: Because most of them condemn things that should never be condemned.

Rapert ended the video by urging his followers to make their voices heard (even though the First Amendment isn’t subject to a popular vote). He also told them to make donations to whatever groups they wanted (even though no one ever told them otherwise).

And so, to respond today, as I’m here trying to work, and respond and let you know we are happy for people to talk to us about our projects and look forward to the opportunity to do even more of those projects in the future.

He’s so busy working that he made an 11-minute video response to a question he could have answered in 10 seconds. So much for wanting to talk about his projects.

He closed with a message for his fan:

… and I just want the American Humanist Association, Freedom From Religion Foundation to know — and I speak very specifically to you as an elected state senator in the state of Arkansas — your threatening letters to people have no force and no effect.

Any high school in this country, any city council, any quorum court: Listen to me very closely.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association and all of these groups that try to intimidate you? Their letters are just letters. They have no force of law. They have no power to enforce what they try to threaten in their letters. They are simply letters and opinions and you don’t have to do anything that they tell you to do. You only have to abide, of course, by laws that are passed in your jurisdictions, relevant to you across the country, and obviously, hopefully, you’re going to stand up for the U.S. Constitution.

This may be the most dangerous thing Rapert says in the video.

The FFRF and AHA also stand up for the Constitution. When they send warning letters to schools or cities that are violating the law, it’s to give them a chance to fix the problem without litigation because the law is on the side of church/state separation.

If anyone chooses to ignore those letters — as Rapert is doing by installing the Ten Commandments monument despite multiple warnings that it’s illegal — the lawsuits may come, and groups like AHA and FFRF have a stellar track record in winning their cases.

When Rapert reinstalls the Ten Commandments monument, there will be a lawsuit. And the monument will eventually come down. Rapert doesn’t care about the law or the Constitution. His only interest is winning over the kind of people dumb enough to look at him as a beacon of intelligence.

He’s going to cost the taxpayers in his state a hell of a lot of money. Maybe that extra money he’s raising can go toward the legal bills the state will have to pay.

I’ll give Rapert the last word. Which, in his case, included a bunch of unrelated Bible verses that I guess were supposed to scare me.

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