Arkansas Religion

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, some Arkansas congregations are embracing unions they have traditionally excluded.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

The Islamic Center of Little Rock is hoping to counter negative stereotypes with a billboard campaign comparing a Muslim woman in a hijab, or headscarf, to Virgin Mary in a veil.

KUAR spoke to the mosque’s vice president, Alaa Eldamaty , who says the goal is to encourage questions. 

"You might be scared of Islam because of all of the media or all of the horrific attacks happening around the world in the name of Islam," said Eldamaty. "But really, Islam is a religion of peace," she explained. 

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A rule that would allow Arkansas counselors to refer patients to another provider over religious objections has been sent back to a subcommittee.

The Arkansas Legislative Council voted Friday to refer the rule with little discussion. State Rep. Andy Davis, co-chair of the Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee, says the rule was not expected to be controversial, "but now that it is, we'll give them 30 more days to look at it."

Little Rock Imam, 'Islam Means Peace,' Grieves Orlando Massacre

Jun 14, 2016
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Imam Mahmoud Hassanein says members of the Islamic Center of Little Rock may send a delegation to Florida in solidarity with victims of Sunday’s deadly massacre at a gay bar in Orlando.

He expressed regret about Sunday’s killing and says his community is grieving the incident.

"This is the killing of innocent people who had done nothing," he said. 

According to Hassanein, Islam teaches that homosexuality is wrong, but it is up to God to judge and respond, not individual people. 

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

More the 70 Arkansas religious leaders affixed their names to a letter delivered to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office on Friday expressing “dismay” at his directive to disregard federal guidance on bathroom access for transgender youth. 

File photo. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) speaking to reporters after addressing the Arkansas General Assembly at the beginning of a special session.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s worked with fellow Republicans to keep a transgender bathroom bill off the agenda of a special session he called to address highway funding. Instead, Hutchinson plans to work with lawmakers on legislation for next year’s lengthier, regular legislative session.

During a press conference, Hutchinson said adding the item to the special session has the potential to detract from his primary objective.

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters at the Capitol
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Republicans wasted no time in letting voters know they do not accept President Obama’s directive on transgender access to public school bathrooms and locker rooms while some Arkansas Democrats are keeping a low profile.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland want to amend a lawsuit challenging Arkansas' abortion restrictions, including dropping a challenge to a law requiring abortion pill providers to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

State Sen. Jason Rapert (file photo).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The governor’s Medicaid expansion plan picked up a last minute potential change intended to block insurance coverage for the Morning After and Plan B pills. State Senator Jason Rapert filed an amendment on Tuesday that requires Governor Asa Hutchinson to ask federal officials for a waiver that would stop Medicaid funds from going to the reproductive health medications.

State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow).
Arkansas Times

The governor may have found a solution to the Medicaid budget impasse caused by just 10 of the state Senate's 35 members in the form of a creative new use of the line item veto but he hasn't done it yet. Into the void steps some last minute finagling and fine tuning.

Morning After Pill

State Senator Jason Rapert told me Tuesday night and then announced to the public via Twitter that he's going to try and stop insurance plans under Arkansas Works from paying for The Morning After or Plan B pill.

The scene at the beginning of Franklin Graham's rally in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The voice of evangelist Franklin Graham, son of Christian media pioneer Billy Graham, boomed across the Arkansas Capitol lawn Tuesday, calling on Christians to get involved in politics.

“Vote for candidates that stand for biblical truths and biblical principles and are willing to live them,” Graham told a crowd KUAR estimated to be over 4,500.

He said failing to do so in recent years has had grave consequences, with secularism trickling down to local governments and institutions.

HRC Arkansas Director Kendra Johnson and HRC President Chad Griffin speaking at the Capitol about an ad HRC is running opposed to a so-called religious liberty law proposed in 2015.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Late this afternoon our often-slighted neighbors to the east in Mississippi are expected to send a so-called religious freedom bill to their governor. Governor Phil Bryant now faces a decision that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had to make last year.

Sen. Rapert Says Ten Commandments Fundraiser Exceeded Goal

Mar 1, 2016
10 commandments
Wikipedia

Republican State Senator Jason Rapert says he has exceeded his fundraising goal to place a Ten Commandments monument on state capitol grounds.

Senator Rapert posted a video on Facebook to announce the construction effort has been gifted more than $18,600, over his $17,635 goal. Senator Rapert says the granite for the project has been ordered, and the statue will be built in the style of the Ten Commandments monument on capitol grounds in Texas.

10 commandments
Wikipedia

A controversial effort to place a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol is underway.

As of Thursday morning, nearly $1,000 had been raised through a funding campaign launched Wednesday.

Republican State Senator Jason Rapert is spearheading the effort to raise over $16,000 toward erecting the display. The non-profit American History and Heritage Foundation will sponsor the monument.

The Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission is awaiting one more submission before deciding when its next meeting will be, according to a letter sent from the secretary of state’s office to a man who says he wants to erect on the Capitol grounds a privately funded monument to the Hindu monkey god Lord Hanuman.

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