September 12, 2015

Arkansas Open Door for 10 Commandments but the Satanic Temple might be Getting In also

What these zealots so called Christians with their appetite for religious symbols to be inserted into the public domain by the government not understanding that if you open the door for one religion you have to open it for all. I hope that if the court approves the 10 commandments they will be satisfied and also look at Satan right next to them and thank god for a fair nation that opens the door to all. Ins’t that what Jesus would have done, fairness for all!

The Satanic Temple is looking to kick up dust again. This time, the religious group is seeking permission to build a privately-funded monument on Arkansas capitol grounds in Little Rock. If given the go ahead, the monument would feature Baphomet, represented as a hoofed goat-headed figure. Arkansas officials are expected to make a decision soon. But why Little Rock?

The Satanic Temple’s attention was drawn to the Arkansas Capitol after the passage of Arkansas Senate Bill 939 earlier this year. Referred to as the Ten Commandments Display Act, SB939 authorized the construction of a monument bearing the Biblical rules on Arkansas Capitol grounds. SB939 explains that the Ten Commandments monument “would help” citizens remember “the moral foundation of the law” in the United States. This point is highly dubious when considering the First Amendment, which explicitly establishes the United States as secular nation.

Among the other rationales SB939 gives for the supposed legality of the Ten Commandments monument is that, aside from the specially authored bill, the State of Arkansas will not involve itself in planning or funding construction. While that’s certainly fine, the real rub comes not from the “how” but the “where” — public grounds. This doesn’t seem to bother Arkansas lawmakers, though.

If Christians can have their own monument, why should others be excluded from having the same? Taken to the logical extreme, the can of worms SB939 has opened hypothetically means if Christians can be represented on government property, any religious group with the money and the time to file the paperwork could have their own display. With the dozens, if not hundreds, of faiths that exist in the exceedingly multicultural United States, such a premise is clearly absurd. The Satanic Temple is looking to test this and has already made plans to build their monument using private funds.

The authors of SB939 seem to have already thought about this, though. The bill justifies granting special approval to the Ten Commandments display because of its apparently unique importance to U.S. law and history. Besides, the bill adds, the Ten Commandments (and by extension, Christianity, in general) “represent a philosophy of government” held “by the majority of Arkansans and other Americans today.” In other words, violating the Constitution is fine if it is justified as being supported by the majority. That’s a troubling line of reasoning.

Pointing this out would seem to be the Satanic Temple’s goal in Little Rock as it was in Oklahoma City. The group saw success not long ago as a similar situation unfolded in Oklahoma, where state lawmakers granted lawful construction of a monument featuring the Ten Commandments on Capitol grounds. Forcing the state to put its money where its mouth is, Satanic Temple also sought permission to construct their own monument. Even though they never got approval, the Satanic Temple had made its point. Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument was finally removed after the state’s supreme court ruled twice that it was unconstitutional.

Arkansas’ lawmakers, like Oklahoma’s, are apparently unaware of the irony of passing a law endorsing a religious monument on the grounds that it’s meant as a tribute to the “foundation” of U.S. law — a foundation that, in reality, includes a prohibition on government endorsing a particular religion.

This is exactly why the Satanic Temple shouldn’t get their monument on Arkansas Capitol grounds and why Christians shouldn’t get to keep their Ten Commandments display. This isn’t an attack on Christianity or religion — if anything, the U.S., being a secular federal government, is designed so that Christianity and indeed virtually any faith can be practiced and preserved. If one day the Christian lawmakers who seek to ignore the First Amendment find themselves in the religious minority, they would be shielded from genuine discrimination thanks to secularism. Secular doesn’t mean atheist or anti-Christian.

To cloak religious favoritism and illegal proselytizing in assertions about historical significance is intellectually dishonest. If monuments were to genuinely reflect modern U.S. constitutional history, documents like the Magna Carta or the charters that formed the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations would be more fitting for state Capitol grounds.
Llowell Williams
Film by KOKO

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