Arkansas Religion

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.

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.

10 commandments
Wikipedia

Arkansas' decision to put a Ten Commandments display on its Capitol grounds could lead to a monument menagerie that includes a statue of a monkey-faced deity and a banner promoting a vegan lifestyle.

The Satanic Temple has said it may erect a bronze Baphomet in Little Rock, and on Tuesday the Universal Society of Hinduism and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced plans for their own displays.

10 commandments
Wikipedia

A group advocating for separation of church and state may propose that a Satanic statue be placed outside the Arkansas Statehouse after their first choice of the Oklahoma Capitol grounds was scuttled by a state Supreme Court ruling barring all religious monuments.

The Satanic Temple says Arkansas' approval of a Ten Commandments display gives the group a right to erect the statue.

Assistant Pro Tempore 1st District Senator Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas state Senate Republicans are working on legislation to reinforce protections for churches, religious organizations and religious schools in response to last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

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