Arkansas Religion

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and supporters
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A federal judge has ordered Arkansas to temporarily reinstate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood after the state blocked funding over concerns about secretly recorded videos released by an anti-abortion group.

Sister Simone Campbell in Fayetteville.
KARK

Coinciding with Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. this month a busload of social justice-minded nuns is touring the country, with three stops in Arkansas.

Sister Simone Campbell, of the lobbying group NETWORK, said she supports the Pope’s message of an inclusive economy.

UPDATE: The Washington County Clerk's office reports that voters approved the anti-discrimination ordinance 52.8 percent to 47.2 percent. 14,593 ballots were cast out of 49,634 registered voters. 

Arkansas State Capitol
Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A group is asking Arkansas officials to allow a Satanic statue to be constructed outside the state Capitol, where a new law allows a monument to the Ten Commandments.

The Satanic Temple on Tuesday formally submitted its request to the secretary of state and the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to approve its proposed monument to Baphomet, which depicts Satan as a goat-headed figure with horns, hooves, wings and a beard. The Massachusetts-based group says it will pay all costs associated with the monument's installation.

Fayetteville's City Council in an August meeting on an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

A state judge has ruled a northwest Arkansas city can vote next week on a proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin on Thursday denied a motion to block next week's special election on the Fayetteville anti-discrimination ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance had sought a temporary restraining order and had argued, among other things, that the ordinance violated a state law aimed at preventing local anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Some 6,000 inmates are released every year from Arkansas prisons, reentering society to find few employment opportunities or support. Meanwhile thousands of foster children face a shortage of foster beds. That's why Governor Asa Hutchinson called for the "Restore Hope" Summit which takes place Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26. 

The Arkansas secretary of state's office has denied a request from the Universal Society of Hinduism to place a privately funded Hindu statue on Capitol grounds.

The Arkansas Legislature passed a law this year to place a privately funded Ten Commandments statue on Capitol grounds. Several other groups, including The Satanic Temple, have since asked to erect statues at the Capitol.

A Wisconsin-based organization says Bible verses posted on a Facebook page operated by the director of 911 emergency dispatch services in Craighead County constitutes a government endorsement of religion.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin initially ordered that the religious material be taken off the page after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained, but was later told the site was private and not under the control of city government.

The Jonesboro Sun reports that officials have asked for the state attorney general's opinion on the matter.

A marriage ceremony being performed in the Pulaski County Courthouse in May 2014.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

An opinion from the Arkansas attorney general’s office is giving some hope to justices of the peace who want to officiate weddings but be allowed to refuse the public service to same-sex couples.

JP Alan Malone of Cleburne County told KUAR on Thursday that he is encouraged by Wednesday’s advisory opinion in which AG Leslie Rutledge (R) contends the state’s religious freedom law might allow JPs to wed some, but not all.

Van Buren County Courthouse.
flickr.com

Arkansas House Majority Leader Ken Bragg says there are no specific or immediate plans to respond legislatively to the US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Bragg’s comments to KUAR on Wednesday follow a statement last week on behalf of the House Republican Caucus that called for a new look at additional so-called religious freedom laws.

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