With Ten Commandments standing on Arkansas capitol grounds, will Baphomet join them?

That statue of Baphomet may get some use after all.

Oklahoma’s Supreme Court recently ruled (twice) that the state must remove a Ten Commandments monument from its capitol grounds, rendering The Satanic Temple’s claim that the state must place their nine foot statue of their goat-headed deity alongside it.

But with Arkansas having recently erected the Ten Commandments on their capitol grounds, the debate has been revived, and the statue may be repurposed.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has also called for an atheist display to appear in the same space, which would read:

MAY REASON PREVAIL

There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Freedom depends on freethinkers

KEEP STATE AND CHURCH SEPARATE

Presented (add date) to the State of Arkansas on behalf of the membership of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in honor of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

A Hindu group recently applied for a statue of Hanuman to appear alongside the Ten Commandments, but their application was rejected. All of the monuments in question would be privately funded.

Eventually, Arkansas will be forced to face the fact that either all religious displays are legitimate, or none of them are. The state is not allowed to endorse a particular strain of faith — religious or otherwise — just because a majority of Arkansans subscribe to it.

Arkansas clearly knew this when they passed the bill authorizing the monument’s construction, as the language in the bill deliberately avoids the Ten Commandments’ religious meaning in lieu of making the patently false claim that the stone tablets represent the basic principles of American government. As the bill reads:

ten-commandments-statueThe Ten Commandments represent a philosophy of government held by many of the founders of this nation and by many Arkansans and other Americans today, that God has ordained civil government and has delegated limited authority to civil government, that God has limited the authority of civil government, and that God has endowed people with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;

In order that they may understand and appreciate the basic principles of the American system of government, the people of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas need to identify the Ten Commandments, one of many sources, as influencing the development of what has become modern law;

The placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol would 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.

The Ten Commandments do none of those things, and have no bearing on American government. They are not referenced in any of our founding documents, nor should they; most of them are either irrelevant (no graven images, which should in theory nix the whole concept of a monument), morally redundant (we didn’t need God to tell us not to kill people) or in direct conflict with American government (no other Gods before the God of Abraham).

The American Civil Liberties Union will likely sue Arkansas over their monument, and they will likely win, as was the case in Oklahoma. But in the meantime, here’s hoping Arkansas sticks to the American principle of religious pluralism and puts Baphomet on full display.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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6 Responses to “With Ten Commandments standing on Arkansas capitol grounds, will Baphomet join them?”

  1. DGT says:

    The claim that American law is based upon the Judeo-Christian “10 commandments” is just crazy. Only two of them are even illegal (don’t kill and don’t steal), and those are pretty much universally banned.

  2. kimn8r says:

    You gotta say one thing about being a Christian, it’s virtually impossible to be one. What’s left then? Hypocrisy, pure and simple.

  3. jgcarter56 says:

    So which version of the 10 commandments did they build; Hebrew, Catholic or Protestant? And which translation did they use; King James, American Standard, etc.? Seems like this would make a difference.

    Also, didn’t Jesus state that there really are only two commandments, and one of the ones he referenced is not one of the original 10? If that is the case, wouldn’t Christianists want the two commandments to be displayed, not the 10, since the two came directly from Jesus?

  4. josiedjetton says:

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  5. 2karmanot says:

    I don’t suppose anyone has pointed out that the 10 Cs are Jewish, not Christian and that a Star of David should surmount them.

  6. BeccaM says:

    “Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.”
    – Matthew 7:12, ‘Common English Bible’ version.

    Funny how it’s the Ten Commandments they want in stone before a courthouse. A first Commandment which explicitly implies the existence of other gods available to worship. Another which says not to make any ‘graven images,’ which is rather ironic given what the Christianists want to do with their graven tablets.

    Another banning the blasphemy of the name of God…there’s a whole lot of folks out there who haven’t been saying ‘Jiminy Crickets!’ like my grandmother used to…and who ought to be stoned to death for it according to other parts of the Old Testament.

    Another basically saying the Sabbath day — which traditionally was Saturday, until the early Church moved it — must be kept ‘holy’, and there’s plenty of guidance in the Bible as to what that entails. Basically, anybody who’s working at all on Saturday is breaking the Sabbath day rule. There’s a vague one about honoring one’s mother and father…but again, going back to the same Old Testament in which the 10Cs appear, this injunction is backed up with a threat of summary public execution if violated.

    Then come some explicit Commandments about stealing, killing, adultery, and lying about people…and only the first two of these are nowadays punishable under the law. (Oddly, it doesn’t say not to lie about other stuff, just not to ‘bear false witness’ against one’s neighbor.) And several lines about envy and coveting in the last Commandment (or last two, depending on the version/translation presented), but in them is a fairly clear equating of a man’s wife with the rest of his property, including his house, farm animals, and slaves. As is pretty clear throughout the rest of the Bible, women aren’t to be considered people, but property, which again is an ironic thing to be posting as a legal ideal in front of a courthouse or other public building, when free and non-enslaved women are supposed to be considered equal in status to men. (Yeah, I know, many of the Christianists would be glad to change this back to the traditional ownership model.)

    All this, an imperfect and decidedly out-of-date set of rules which isn’t even enforceable as law, but the Christianists would prefer that over the far superior and more universal Golden Rule. Maybe it’s because the Ten Commandments have so very many loopholes.

    I appreciate what the Satanists are trying to do, as well as the atheist group, but in my opinion, it was the summary refusal of the Hindu group’s request which put the lie to every claim on the part of the Christianists. Hanuman, the monkey god, as a revered deity in the Hindu faith predates practically everything historical in Christianity by centuries. And basically, he is just about the ideal and most relateable deity in the Hindu pantheon, being wise, intelligent beyond measure, noble, devoted, indomitable, fierce against demons and a friend to mankind.

    Supposedly the Hindu group in Arkansas wasn’t even given a reason for the refusal. Just told they’d have to get the state legislature to pass a law allowing any display other than the Ten Commandments on public property.

    Which is why the state is going to lose in court. Again.

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