Atheists May Mount More Challenges to Ten Commandments Monuments
Those who don't believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but do profess an overwhelming belief in the constitutional separation of church and state, may soon have to round up their lawyers and head to Arkansas under the banner of the organization known as American Atheists, Inc.
Arkansas state politicians have approved legislation to build a Ten Commandments monument, which would be paid for with private donations, on the grounds of their state Capitol in Little Rock.
American Atheists, Inc. does not have a problem with the Ten Commandments or building monuments, per se, to immortalize the basic tenets of the Christian religion.
Danielle Muscato, the organization’s communications manager, told PJM that atheists only have a problem with building Ten Commandments monuments on government property, such as what happened in Oklahoma and may soon happen in Arkansas.
“And private donations do not resolve the endorsement of a specific religion by the state,” the transgendered woman, formerly known as David, said.
Well, Muscato said, American Atheists, Inc also has one more bone of contention with Christians.
“We have a real problem with Christians pushing their religion on us,” Muscato said.
American Atheists fought and lost a battle in March to get Oklahoma to tear down the state-sanctioned Ten Commandments monument that was built on the lawn of the Oklahoma Capitol grounds in 2012.
Federal judge Robin J. Cauthron dismissed the lawsuit brought by American Atheists and two Oklahoma residents. Cauthron ruled the plaintiffs did not have “standing” in the case, which means they did not suffer an “injury in fact,” because of the monument.
Cauthron found the plaintiff, who said she had suffered harm, had not even seen the monument enough times to make the claim credible.
Cauthron pretty much accused American Atheists, Inc. of bringing a couple of ringers into the courtroom.
Citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the judge observed the plaintiffs “do not have a special license to roam the country in search of government wrongdoing.”
“This is another victory for the state of Oklahoma and one more affirmation that the Ten Commandments monument can remain on display at our State Capitol,” Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, said.
Liberty Institute, which describes itself as the “largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America,” assisted the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office in defending the six-foot-tall monument.
So, it should come as no surprise that Arkansas lawmakers who have approved legislation to build a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of their state Capitol have already teamed up with Liberty Institute just in case court action is required to save the monument.
The legislation still needs Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) signature before construction can begin.
Muscato did not know if American Atheists would take the Arkansas case to court. In fact, the organization had not heard about the legislation before PJM contacted her at the group’s annual convention in Memphis.
“The problem is that they are building these monuments on government property,” Muscato said. “If they were on private or church property, that would be fine. Or if all religious organizations had an equal chance (to build) on government property, that would be okay, too.”
And she stressed atheists, by and large, don't have a problem with the Ten Commandments.