The Satanic Temple is dropping charges, but vows to resume the lawsuit if the monument is installed again.
On June 28, a monument depicting the Ten Commandments was set up in Little Rock, Arkansas. The structure, standing at six feet tall, was installed outside the state’s Capitol. However, Satanists from the local region are not happy with the idea and have accused the state of wrongfully propagating the spread of Christianity. The two conflicting parties spent an estimated two years in and out of state courtrooms. In 2015, however, a law was passed that required state legislation for the installation of any monument within Arkansas. The courtrooms gave the state permission to put up the monument on government property.
Despite the span of time that has passed since the state won the case, they only obtained an official clearance for the statue’s installation last month. Explaining the essence of the monument on state grounds, Republic Senator Jason Rapert told the press, “This is part of who we are, it’s history. So in Arkansas, we did not have anything that spoke to that and this gives us that opportunity to have that.”
The Satanic Temple had announced a lawsuit against the state for allowing a ten commandments monument but denying their application for a similar monument to The Satanic Temple’s deity Baphomet.
The Satanists have also received support from other groups in Arkansas. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas has stated that the state’s actions in putting up this monument endorse a specific religion. The group has also said that the monument is unconstitutional. “If they put it up, they’re going to signal to people who don’t subscribe to that particular version of the commandments and non-believers they are second-class citizens and we will file suit,” legal director Holly Dickson had stated before the monument’s installation.
The structure weighed 6,000 pounds and was privately funded. Its installation amounted to an estimated $26,000. It was placed in the South West lawn of Arkansas’ Capitol. It was installed in a rather quiet ceremony, with fanfare notably lacking. There was also no notice provided by the State about the structure’s installation.
With the successful installation of the monument, the drama surrounding it was still far from over. Less than 24 hours later, the structure was destroyed. The alleged vandal is purportedly a Christian, terming himself as a “Jesus freak.” State officials explained that the monument was destroyed by someone driving a car. The suspect was arrested early Wednesday morning. He has been identified as 32-year-old Michael Tate Reed. The alleged perpetrator of the crime is also an Arkansas native.
Upon investigation, the reasons behind his motives have become clearer to the police. According to Reed, there needs to be a separation between state and religion. Because the monument interfered with this distinction, he decided to take matters into his own hands. This led him to driving his car through the monument, thereby destroying it. Reed videotaped the whole event and posted it on Facebook.
In a statement to Fox News, Senator Jason Rapert said “This was an act of violence against the people of Arkansas. The first thought that came to me – who else in the world destroys monuments – is it the same hatred that ISIS uses in the communities that they go into,” he said.
Okay. Senator @jasonrapert saw fit to blame The Satanic Temple for destruction of the 10 Commandments & called me a mentally ill criminal
— Lucien Greaves (@LucienGreaves) June 28, 2017
Speaking to Arkansas Online, “As far as our lawsuit goes, I believe we have to postpone it,” said Lucien Greaves, a co-founder of the Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple. “I believe it takes our standing away. Our plaintiff hadn’t even seen the monument yet at the time [the suspect] ran it over. Of course, if they put the monument back up, then we will sue.”
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) June 29, 2017