LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Ten Commandments returned to the grounds of the state capitol Thursday, less than one year after a driver ran down the original monument.
Four concrete barriers surround the replacement to make sure another car cannot destroy it. However, groups are already mobilizing to bring it down with the court system.
Lawsuit threats from the Satanic Temple poured in before crews reinstalled the monument, followed by the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU and Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
St. Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, revealed the controversial tablet during a dedication ceremony Thursday morning, alongside several of his colleagues in the legislature, Family Council staff and other proponents of the Ten Commandments. Among their cheering, a big thumbs down from an opponent stood out.
“I don’t need a book to tell me how to live my life or people,” said Chris Russell, a Satanist.
“Or a tablet?,” reporter Jessi Turnure asked.
“Or a tablet, monument,” Russell said.
Russell drove in from Russellville to support the co-founder of the Satanic Temple, who goes by Lucien Greaves. As crews installed the replacement, Greaves hovered close by and kept almost the same amount of distance during the ceremony.
The Satanic Temple argues replacing the Ten Commandments monument but refusing to install its Satanic statue next to it is illegal viewpoint discrimination.
“Satanism represents free thought, individualism,” Russell said. “Basically, you are your own god. I’ve never subscribed to the Christian religion. It’s never resonated with me.”
In contrast, a Christian couple who drove in from Hot Springs for the monument’s dedication could not see it Russell’s way.
“I’ll pray for them,” said Lanelle Tippit.
Tippit and her husband, Doug, believe the Ten Commandments are the law of the land, especially the first one.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before you,” Lanelle said.
“That’s right,” Doug said. “That’s it.”
“If you do that then everything else will fall in place,” Lanelle said.
More than 800 people from Arkansas and across the country agree with the couple. Sen. Rapert told the crowd their private donations made the replacement possible.
“This is what our country was founded on is God,” Doug said.
However, others believe in separation of church and state. Russell and his fellow Satanists demand their statue stand next to the Ten Commandments or hope the legal system gets rid of them.
Russell knows the latter is more likely.
“Come down because these guys, I know they’re opposed to the Baphomet statue,” he said. “They don’t get it. They don’t understand what it is, what it represents.”