Destroying Monuments of the Ten Commandments
Caught on tape: A man yells “freedom” while simultaneously accelerating up a hill and crashing his Dodge Dart into the Ten Commandments Monument outside the Arkansas State Capitol. The newly-installed three-ton granite monument had been in this location for less than 24 hours before being utterly destroyed.
Reed’s Facebook Live video post shows the Arkansas crime in action – the radio blaring in the background while the car accelerates and crashes into the monument at 21 mph. The monument is seen falling to the ground in pieces.
As a result of this seemingly premeditated crime, 32-year-old Michael Tate Reed has been charged with defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespassing, and first-degree criminal mischief. Nearly three years ago, he was arrested for defacing the 10 Commandments Monument outside the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Reed did not face charges in Oklahoma after his family members revealed that he struggled with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Reed himself admitted to having delusions and hearing voices and apologized for that crime, saying that he wished he could take it all back.
A Quick Response
Although the Arkansas demolition occurred in the pre-dawn hours on June 28, a crew of concerned citizens had cleaned up the crash site by late morning, taking the broken pieces to storage. Undeterred by the crime, Arizona State Senator Jason Rapert, who led the movement to erect the monument, told the local Little Rock newspaper that a replacement had already been ordered.
“This law will be fulfilled, and we will raise the funds to make sure it’s put back where it should be,” Rapert told the newspaper. A 2015 law requires Arkansas to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed near the state capitol. In 2005, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of a Ten Commandments Monument outside the state capitol in Austin, Texas.
Separation Of Church And State?
Although the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) believes that such religious displays are an unconstitutional breach of the principle of separation between church and state, it explicitly condemned the destruction of public property. ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar remarked, “The ACLU remains committed to seeing this unconstitutional monument struck down by the courts and safely removed through legal means.”
But does such a display really violate Constitutional principles? You might be surprised to learn that the phrase “separation of church and state” is found nowhere in the Constitution. Instead it is found in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. The only religious statement in the Constitution can be found in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The Supreme Court has held that 10 Commandment Monuments do not violate the First Amendment.
Essentially, freedom of religion does not equal freedom from religion. That is, nobody is guaranteed the right to be insulated from religious principles. No, America is not a theocracy. But according to a special report by the Heritage Foundation, America’s founding “was deeply shaped by Christian moral truths.”
It’s time to stand up for these moral truths, just as the hard-working citizens of Arkansas are doing by quickly resurrecting their Ten Commandments Monument. A peaceful Christian display is what this world so desperately needs. Apathy? Not so much.