LITTLE ROCK — A Hindu group said Tuesday it will ask Gov. Asa Hutchinson to allow it to place a statue of the Hindu god Lord Hanuman on the Arkansas Capitol grounds.

LITTLE ROCK — A Hindu group said Tuesday it will ask Gov. Asa Hutchinson to allow it to place a statue of the Hindu god Lord Hanuman on the Arkansas Capitol grounds.


Hutchinson said he has concerns about that idea and about a Satanist group’s previously stated intent to place a statue at the Capitol.


Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in a news release the group would arrange for the Hanuman statue to be designed, constructed and placed on the Capitol grounds at no cost to the state. He noted that earlier this year Hutchinson signed into law a measure calling for a Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the Capitol grounds, also at no cost to the state.


Arkansas has a "substantial number of Hindu residents and students who would love to see a statue of Lord Hanuman, who was greatly revered and worshipped and known for incredible strength and was (a) perfect grammarian," Zed said.


He added that a statue of Hanuman, the monkey god, would raise awareness of Hinduism, the third largest religion in the world with 1 billion adherents.


The Associated Press first reported that The Satanic Temple is considering placing an 8½-foot-tall statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed version of Satan, on the Arkansas Capitol grounds. The group originally intended to place the statue on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds but cancelled that plan after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a Ten Commandments monument there must be removed.


Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday, "We want to be careful as to what monuments and designations go there (at the Arkansas Capitol). … We don’t want just every group putting a statue on the Capitol grounds."


The governor said any group seeking to place a statue at the Capitol would need to go through the Legislature or the secretary of state’s office. He also said he believes the legislation calling for a Ten Commandments monument was "unique."


"The Legislature passed that legislation as a recognition of the history that the Ten Commandments played in the foundation of our law in western civilization," he said.


State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, who sponsored the Ten Commandments bill, said Tuesday that if the Hindu group or the Satanist group wants to place a statue on the Capitol grounds, "they’d have to find a legislator that would file a bill and a governor that would sign the bill."


Rapert said he does not believe his legislation opened a door for religious displays at the Capitol.


"The Ten Commandments monument display is about the historical, moral foundation of law, and (the law) specifically states that it is not an endorsement of a religion or a denomination," he said.


Rapert also said the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling does not have implications for Arkansas because it was based on the Oklahoma Constitution.


Oklahoma’s constitution prohibits the use of public property for religious purposes.


In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Capitol grounds but ruled that Ten Commandments displays at two Kentucky courthouses were unconstitutional.