LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Capitol lawn could soon get crowded: Existing statues that honor Confederate soldiers, fallen firefighters and the nine black children who integrated Little Rock Central High School might be joined shortly by tributes for vegans, a monkey-faced deity and a cloven-hooved demon.
State legislators this year approved placing a privately funded Ten Commandments display on Capitol grounds, perhaps opening a way for religious groups and others to erect their own displays. The Satanic Temple has said it may erect a bronze Baphomet, and on Tuesday two more groups stepped forward to say they want space to promote their deeply held beliefs.
The Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism proposes a statue of Lord Hanuman, an immortal deity with an ape-like face and a tail known for incredible strength, perseverance and devotion.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told The Associated Press it wants a massive vegetable banner hung from the Arkansas Capitol.
The monument menagerie, legal challenges withstanding, could eventually gaze upon the fertile political grounds that nurtured President Bill Clinton and current presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mike Huckabee. The Capitol currently has 15 monuments including a tribute to the Little Rock Nine, a group of teenagers escorted into Central High School by federal troops in 1957.
Last week’s decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to outlaw religious displays at the Oklahoma Statehouse has shifted the groups’ attention to Arkansas, which closely copied Oklahoma in drafting its own Ten Commandments display law. The groups are proposing plans for Arkansas that are similar or identical to what they wanted in Oklahoma.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during an unrelated news conference Tuesday that he doesn’t support the Hindu plan or that from The Satanic Temple, which advocates for the separation of church and state, to erect an 8
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