LITTLE ROCK — A humanist group Tuesday asked state Sen. Jason Rapert to stop raising private funds for the installation of a Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds, arguing that the monument would be unconstitutional

LITTLE ROCK — A humanist group Tuesday asked state Sen. Jason Rapert to stop raising private funds for the installation of a Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds, arguing that the monument would be unconstitutional


Rapert, R-Conway, said courts have upheld the constitutionality of Ten Commandments monuments at other state capitol buildings.


In an open letter to Rapert, the American Humanist Association said it wanted to inform him of "strong objections to this plan on behalf of Arkansas residents and others who see it as a blatant attempt to promote religion and a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause."


Rapert recently launched a GoFundMe account with the goal of raising $16,635 to cover the cost of making, transporting and installing a Ten Commandments monument, plus incidental expenses. The American History and Heritage Foundation will undertake the project if the money can be raised, according to Rapert.


By late Tuesday afternoon, the account had received $6,055 from 48 people over five days.


Rapert is the sponsor of Act 1231 of 2015, which calls for the installation of a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds at private expense. The law states that such a monument "would help the people of the United States and of the State of Arkansas to know the Ten Commandments as the moral foundation of the law."


The humanist group noted in its letter that Rapert leads the Appeal to Heaven national legislative caucus, whose members pledge to "live and govern based on biblical, constitutional and federalist principles."


"Let the record be clear that the American Humanist Association decries any attempt to ‘govern based on biblical principles" as being both theocratic and unconstitutional. By pursuing this project, you are inviting litigation that will come at the expense of Arkansas taxpayers, all for the purpose of promoting your personal religious beliefs," the group said.


Rapert said Tuesday he is "committed to following Supreme Court precedent on this issue."


"It is settled law that a Ten Commandments monument such as the one we intend in Arkansas is in full compliance with the Constitution. Act 1231 was passed by 99 out of 135 state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2015 and will be fulfilled according to state law," he said.


Rapert referenced two court decisions: In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds, and in the same year, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in Plattsmouth, Neb.


Ten Commandments displays have not always survived court challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that a Ten Commandments display at a courthouse in Whitley City, Ky., was unconstitutional, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last year that a Ten Commandments monument outside that state’s capitol building violated the Oklahoma Constitution.


Since Act 1231 became law, the Satanic Temple, the Universal Society of Hinduism, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have sought approval to install displays at the Capitol, arguing that the state cannot discriminate in favor of a Ten Commandments display and against other displays. The secretary of state’s office, which maintains the Capitol grounds, has not granted any of those requests.