The Arkansas Senate, in passing Bill no. 939 (now Act 1231), authorized the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol to purportedly “help the people of the United States and of the State of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law.” While the “Ten Commandments Monument Display Act” was passed to direct the Secretary of State to arrange to place the monument and prepare for any challenge to “the legality or constitutionality of the monument,” it also triggered responses from atheists, Hindus, vegans, and the Satanic Temple, according to the Arkansas Times.
We previously reported on the Satanic Temple of Detroit’s unveiling of “The Satanic Temple Baphomet monument” at an approximately 700-person party, here. Now the Satanic Temple has formally requested that the Baphomet monument be placed next to the planned Ten Commandments display. According to a press release, posted by the Arkansas Times, the Temple believes that the State, through Bill no. 939, has opened public grounds to privately funded donations. Thus, the State, also argues the Temple, cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination and deny donations of a similar manner.
According to the Temple, the “monument is a memorial to the various historical witch hunts, and homage to the persecuted free-thinkers and “heretics” who helped inform American secular jurisprudence.” The inscription on the monument will read:
Be it known to all that this statue commemorates the history of law in the United States of America. From the deplorable Satanic Witch Hunts, the cherished doctrines of due process, presumption of innocence and the protection of minorities from the tyranny of mob rule became part of the established foundation of American jurisprudence.
RLUIPA Defense will continue to monitor the Temple’s efforts in Arkansas and keep an eye out for an almost inevitable Establishment Clause challenge.