Another Battle Over A Ten Commandments on Public Ground
The Satanic Temple has joined a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the state of Arkansas, claiming that the state has engaged in religious discrimination. The suit stems from the placement of a new monument featuring the Ten Commandments which has been placed on the capitol grounds in Little Rock. The Satanic Temple alleges the state of Arkansas has shown illegal favoritism towards Christianity by encouraging the monument’s placement through new legislation.
An Ongoing Argument
The Satanic Temple has a history of taking action against the placement of religious monuments that favor one religion over another. The lawsuit will mark The Satanic Temple’s second battle against a state’s decision to place a Ten Commandments monument. When Oklahoma placed a monument in their state capitol in 2012, The Satanic Temple argued that their organization had an equal right to place a Baphomet statue on the same grounds as a way to demonstrate religious diversity. While the plan never came to fruition, Oklahoma was ultimately forced to remove their Ten Commandments monument.
The Ten Commandments monument placed in Little Rock on April 26, 2018, was built to replace one that was deliberately destroyed last year. PureFlix then stepped in to donate $25,000 to construction of a new monument. Now that the new statue has been installed, The Satanic Temple’s lawsuit will renew its attempt to have the underlying legal precedents allowing the installation recognized as a violation of the First Amendment.
The Legal Side
The primary argument against the Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas is it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In this case, the legislators from Arkansas made provisions for the monument to be created and placed as long as it was privately funded and understood to be a recognition rather than an endorsement of Christianity.
However, the ACLU and The Satanic Temple posit that the legislators’ involvement in having a Christian monument placed is tantamount to demonstrating preference on the part of the government, which is illegal. After all, the state legislators have seemingly shown an unwillingness to put as much effort into the placement of monuments that celebrate or recognize other religious traditions.
As such, The Satanic Temple is joining their efforts with other invested parties in order to have the Ten Commandments monument removed. It appears as though history favors the argument against placing any religious monuments on state grounds. A similar court battle in Oklahoma resulted in the state’s Supreme Court demanding the monument be removed on the premise that state grounds cannot be used to further religions; it seems wholly possible that a similar result could occur in Arkansas.