(Little Rock, Arkansas, May 23, 2018) — The American Humanist Association (AHA), along with other parties, filed suit in federal court today to remove a controversial Ten Commandments display from the state capitol grounds in Little Rock, Arkansas. The lawsuit alleges that the Ten Commandments monument is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“This monument has been controversial from its inception, because it is a divisive display that favors certain religious beliefs over others,” said David Niose, American Humanist Association legal director. “Government should not be in the business of promoting particular religious views.”
A similar monument was installed at the state capitol last year, only to be destroyed just hours after it was installed. The individual accused of destroying the display was subsequently found unfit to stand trial. Proponents of the display, led by state senator Jason Rapert, immediately began raising money for a replacement. Senator Rapert has publicly stated, “I am guilty as charged for supporting the Ten Commandments and… take full responsibility for being so bold as to believe that our state and our nation would be better off if people simply honored, followed and adhered to the Ten Commandments given by God Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai.” Rapert’s effort reportedly raised $85,000, which will provide a protective barrier around the new display.
The AHA points to Rapert’s statements as evidence of the clearly religious nature of the Ten Commandments display.
“In these divisive times, the last thing we need is another government project intended to draw a wedge between Christians, the favored group, and everybody else,” said AHA executive director Roy Speckhardt. “Ten Commandments displays belong in churches, not on government property.”
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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