Ten Commandments monument bill clears House committee | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ten Commandments monument bill clears House committee

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 10:51 AM

click to enlarge REP. KIM HAMMER: Ten Commandments monument does not express preference of Christianity over other forms of religion. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • REP. KIM HAMMER: Ten Commandments monument does not express preference of Christianity over other forms of religion.

A bill which would allow for the installation of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol cleared the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs this morning. It now goes to a vote before the full House. 

Senate Bill 939 would allow private funds to pay for the creation and installation of a monument bearing the old testament Ten Commandments. The bill states that in the event of a constitutional challenge, the Attorney General's office may present a legal defense or ask that a defense be prepared by Liberty Legal Institute, a Texas-based law firm.

SB939 was presented by Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton), who said that the bill was "patterned after what was done in a few other states," including Oklahoma, where Hammer said a Ten Commandments monument has withstood the scrutiny of state and federal courts. A fund would be set up for citizens to donate toward the monument if the bill becomes law

Anne Orsi, an attorney from Little Rock was one of several people who spoke against the bill, saying that the bill should not become law. Orsi said that the bill's contention that American law is based in any way on the Ten Commandments is incorrect. "This simply isn't true, either from a legal history standpoint or a practical standpoint." American law, Orsi said, is mostly based on English Common Law. Orsi noted what should have been patently obvious to everybody in the room: that several of the Ten Commandments refer specifically about the deity of a particular religion, and therefore the installation of a monument to them on public grounds would be a violation of the First Amendment's separation of church and state. 

"The first four [commandments] are about worshipping the Abrahamic God," Orsi said. "That's picking one God out of many and that's establishing religion. We should not do that. It's unconstitutional, according to the First Amendment, the first of our Bill of Rights." 

Given that one of the Ten Commandments likely coming soon to public property near you is Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness, the following exchange between Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) and Hammer during Hammer's closing for the bill must be noted: 

WALKER: "Rep. Hammer, does the bill have a tendency to prefer Christianity over other forms of religion that do not recognize the Ten Commandments in the state of Arkansas?"

HAMMER: "First of all, I'd like to note that I'm not the one that has initiated the conversation that this bill is being presented on the basis of supporting one religion over the other. Mine is supported from simply the fact that it's of historical value, and we want to give representation and placement to a piece of history that has been around, probably, even before the country started. So in regards to answer your question: no."  

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Comments (28)

Showing 1-28 of 28

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-28 of 28

Add a comment

More by David Koon

  • Fast forward in Blytheville

    The East Coast Timing Association held its Arkansas 1-Mile Challenge in September, where racers from all over the country mixed gasoline, steel and passion in the pursuit of raw speed.
    • Oct 11, 2018
  • Tough mothers, demanding action

    Interest in the gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action has exploded since the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. Leaders here say they're in the battle for 'gun sense' until the job is done.
    • Apr 5, 2018
  • The Griffin

    El Dorado's new restaurant showplace is worth the drive.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The two cities of Little Rock: East/west, black/white

    The Little Rock City Board illustrated this week a community divided over public schools, another blow to the Little Rock School District and another illustration of the need for ward elections to the board.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • ADEQ denies C&H Hog Farm permit

    The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied a new permit for the C&H Hog Farms' concentrated animal feeding operation near Mount Judea (Newton County). This is a big and somewhat surprising victory for critics who have viewed C&H's large-scale pig farm and the pig waste it generates as an existential threat to the Buffalo National River.
    • Jan 10, 2018
  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments


© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation