In the wake of the defacing of the recently unveiled Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds, executive producers from the Christian movie series God’s Not Dead have donated $25,000 for restorations.
This is not the first time the film series has played a role in the spiritual life of Arkansas. In fact, the second movie in the series, God’s Not Dead 2 was shot in Little Rock back in 2015. That was the same year state Sen. Jason Rapert introduced the bill to have the Ten Commandments installed.
This past Thursday, Rapert was joined by representatives from PureFlix Entertainment and GND Media Group in a news conference to present the donation. Rapert was also joined by executive producer Troy Duhon.
In a brief statement, Duhon postulated, “Tell me what America would look like if Americans honored the Ten Commandments,” and noted that his own son had asked him why rebuilding the monument was important. The monument, which was made of a six-foot-tall stone and inscribed with the namesake religious laws, was erected on June 27, only to be destroyed the very next day when a man drove his car into the statue. The man, Michael Tate Reed, is being held in lieu of bail for destroying the monument.
A post detailing his rationale for the destruction that has since been deleted from Facebook, but according to the Washington Post, Reed said, “I’m a firm believer that for our salvation we not only have faith in Jesus Christ, but we also obey the commands of God and that we confess Jesus as Lord. But one thing I do not support is the violation of our constitutional right to have the freedom that’s guaranteed to us, that guarantees us the separation of church and state, because no one religion should the government represent.”
The loss of the monument represents a significant financial loss, however. With religious tourism contributing a large part of the state’s revenue, the destruction of the statute means a real loss for many in the state. Businesses ranging from nearby restaurants to motorcoach tours (50.2% of their client base being seniors and students, prime demographics for tourism) will likely miss out on a boost of new capital.
Fortunately, efforts to replace the statue are already underway. With the addition of the gift from the God’s Not Dead producers, the total amount of money raised climbed to roughly $55,000, eclipsing the cost of the original monument, $26,000. The original monument was paid for by private funds raised by the American History and Heritage Foundation. According to Rapert, excess funds will be funneled into projects approved by the AHHF.