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Satanic Temple and Secular Government Hit a Hard Stop After Descending on 10 Commandments: 'The Supreme Court Already Settled This Debate'

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The Satanic Temple and several other secular and anti-religion groups have been attempting to sue the State of Arkansas for years to force it to remove a monument featuring the Ten Commandments that sits on the grounds of the state Capitol building, but a motion filed in support of the state’s display notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has already settled the debate and says the lawsuits should be thrown out of court.

Attorneys for The Satanic Temple, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and others have filed repeated motions demanding the state remove the monument of the Ten Commandments that was erected back in 2015 on the Capitol grounds in Little Rock.

You may recall that the monument became a big national story back in 2017, when a crazed man used his truck to run down and destroy the original monument. The man was arrested on felony charges, but was later deemed mentally unfit to be prosecuted and was acquitted, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

The troubled man who destroyed the original monument has spent years in the care of mental health professionals and was similarly charged — and cleared on mental health grounds — in the 2014 destruction of an identical Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, the paper added in another report.

The man in Arkansas is not the only one to destroy a public display of the Ten Commandments. Another man pulled the same stunt in Montana in 2020.

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Regardless, the state rebuilt the monument and since then it has remained a major target of the anti-religious groups who have been trying to have it removed. In 2018, for instance, the Satanic Temple sponsored a rally at the Capitol to protest the monument and to demand a statue of their own be erected on the Capitol grounds.

The Satanic Church has placed other disquieting displays in public spaces, so its demands in Arkansas are not new.

Fast-forward to this year, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed yet another lawsuit to force the state to remove the monument, saying in a March 6 statement that, “the monument is unconstitutional” and that they filed “an injunction directing the state to remove the monument.”

“Despite widespread objections, the state went forward with the installation of the monument, which has brought nothing but religious division,” they said.

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FFRF added that the display should be immediately taken down for a number of reasons, and claimed that the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause “unconditionally prohibited legislative action that elevates one religion or sectarian belief to favored status,” that posting a religious statement is a “violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause” and that the state’s Act 1231 that permitted the monument is “precisely the type of harm the Establishment Clause was meant to prevent.”

As to Act 1231, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette explained: “Act 1231 of 2015, sponsored by then-Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway and co-sponsored by then-Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, says the General Assembly found that the Ten Commandments ‘are an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the state of Arkansas,’ and they ‘represent a philosophy of government held by many of the founders of this nation.'”

The state has filed a motion for the court to reject the claims by the anti-religion groups, saying “The Establishment Clause doesn’t require blotting religion out of the public square. Displays like the Ten Commandments monument represent our history and traditions and are perfectly constitutional. And neither the Equal Protection Clause nor any other provision requires the government to endorse a parody of religion simply because it wishes to recognize the significance of a legal and moral document with religious significance. This Court should reject all arguments to the contrary and grant summary judgment to Secretary Thurston.”

In addition, the First Liberty Institute, which joined the Arkansas Attorney General in defense against the attempts by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Satanic Temple lawsuit to remove the monument, countered with a statement of its own, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has already opined about this issue and its ruling supports the state, not the attackers of the monument.

“The Supreme Court already settled this debate – displays that are part of the history and tradition of America, like the Ten Commandments, are presumed to be Constitutional,” said Lea Patterson, Counsel at First Liberty in the group’s March 7 press release. “Displaying the Ten Commandments—a symbol of law and moral conduct with both religious and secular significance—is a longstanding national tradition as a matter of law. The court should summarily reject these anti-religion activist organizations’ unfounded lawsuits.”

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The organization added, “Despite Supreme Court opinions concluding that similar Ten Commandments displays are constitutional, several individuals and groups sued. But as Justice Breyer observed in his concurring opinion in Van Orden v. Perry, which found a nearly identical Texas monument constitutional, the monument ‘communicates to visitors that the State sought to reflect moral principles, illustrating a relation between ethics and law that the State’s citizens, historically speaking, have endorsed.'”

The group also said, “recently, in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, the Supreme Court noted that the Ten Commandments ‘have historical significance as one of the foundations of our legal system.'”

And so, striking a blow for religious freedom, the attorneys with First Liberty and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office filed a motion for summary judgment urging a federal court to reject lawsuits filed by The Satanic Temple, Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and others challenging the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol.

First Liberty is right. The issue has already been settled. The Ten Commandments are not merely a few lines of religious text from the Christian and Jewish religions. The ideals form an ancient moral code that has influenced western civilizations for thousands of years and served as a basic foundation underlying our entire ethos and systems of laws.

Not to mention that the U.S. Constitution says we have the right to our “free exercise” of religion, not “freedom FROM religion.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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