A monument of the Ten Commandments will return to the Arkansas Capitol Lawn next week, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Arkansas Legislature authorized the privately financed monument in 2015, and it was installed on the capitol grounds last year.
Unfortunately, less than 24 hours after it was placed on the lawn, a Van Buren man plowed a car into the monument, destroying it.
The new monument is a duplicate of the original, but it will be flanked by concrete barriers to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, the ACLU has promised to sue the state as soon as the monument is put in place — even though an identical monument was ruled constitutional in Texas some years ago.
According to UALR Public Radio, a new monument of the Ten Commandments will be built on the Capitol lawn sometime this spring:
A new Ten Commandments monument will likely be placed at the Arkansas State Capitol in April. It’s a replacement for one destroyed last June, less than 24 hours after it was unveiled, by a driver who intentionally crashed his car into it.
Chris Powell, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, says they’ve decided to wait until after the legislature wraps up the fiscal session, then a special session, so that the grounds won’t be as busy and heavy equipment can be brought in.
You may recall the Arkansas Legislature authorized the monument in 2015.
Many expect the replacement monument to include some sort of barricade or other feature to prevent it from being destroyed by another vehicle.
Meanwhile the ACLU has said it plans to file a lawsuit against the State of Arkansas as soon as the monument is built — despite the fact courts have ruled an identical monument in Texas constitutional.
This week Pew Research Center created quite a stir by releasing the findings of a study it conducted earlier this year. Among other things, researchers found Americans increasingly identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”
The study asked participants two key questions: “Do you think of yourself as a religious person, or not?” and “Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person, or not?”
Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed indicated they are spiritual but not religious — which is up from 19% in 2012.
What is striking about the results is that a large number of these people still identify with a religion or denomination. A full 35% of those who claim to be spiritual but not religious also identify as Protestant, and 17% attend services at least weekly.
So what is behind these numbers?
Most seem to agree that Americans probably are withdrawing from religion, but still hold views shaped by religion. For example, they might still believe in God, but don’t attend church any more.
Another possibility to keep in mind, however, is that many people — particularly Evangelical Christians — have a negative view of the word “religion.”
For some, the word “religion” conjures up images of meaningless rituals. For them, going to church is not a religious activity; it’s a deeply personal, spiritual one.
That may be part of the reason why so many people who attend services weekly (or more) would still identify themselves as non-religious.
And let’s not forget that although the number is declining, nearly half of those surveyed still identified themselves as both spiritual and religious. As we wrote a few years ago, weekly church attendance today is roughly on par with where it was in the 1940s.
The numbers may not be encouraging, but they certainly aren’t the death knell of Christianity, either.