The Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission is meeting next week to review proposals for a slate of new monuments. Tuesday’s review of monuments and memorials includes displays for the 10 Commandments, Satan, Gold Star Families, and atheists.
State Senator Jason Rapert, a Republican from Bigelow, helped pass legislation in 2015 paving the way for a 10 Commandments monument – so long as it was funded and erected with private dollars. In his legislation Senator Rapert argues displaying the 10 Commandments, as outlined in religious texts, is appropriate because it’s an “important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States…”
Opponents argued it would open the door for displays representing a vast multitude of faiths and moral codes. It has generated that effect – at least in the form of proposals - from the Satanic Temple and the Saline Atheist and Skeptic Society. A Hindu society has also contemplated proposing a monument for the state Capitol grounds.
How the commission, headed by Secretary of State Mark Martin, will interpret the proposals in the context of the 2015 law may be on display at Tuesday’s meeting. Neither group has navigated the legislative route to monument building pursued by Senator Rapert or enlisted a legislative sponsor for their proposals.
The Arts and Grounds Commission agenda includes a review of the approval/disapproval process, a look at the monument proposals, as well as the selection of sub-committees for each proposal. It's a hot button issue that the Secretary of State's office has determined warrants a hotline for public comment 501-683-6589.