In a remarkable interfaith gesture, religious leaders of diverse traditions have supported the request of Hindus to erect a statue of Hindu deity Hanuman in Arkansas Capitol grounds in Little Rock.
Some Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and other faith leaders have backed distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed’s announcement to arrange the Hanuman statue to be constructed, designed and paid for by private funds at no expense to the state.
These religious leaders supportive of this Hanuman statue include Greek Orthodox Christian priest Father Stephen R. Karcher, well known Buddhist priest Reverend Jikai’ Phil Bryan, Reverend Stephen L. Child of American Clergy Leadership Conference, Bahá’í teacher Justin V. Deverse, American Indian spirituality scholar Brian E. Melendez, Dharmakaya Buddhist Center Director Trey Ligon, Children of Temple Earth priestess Ellyn Darrah and Church of Inner Light Founder Laura A. Peppard.
ElizaBeth W. Beyer, Jewish rabbi in California and Nevada, stated: The United States of America celebrates freedom of religion, religious pluralism and freedom of speech. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another. In the event that the current monuments in Arkansas represent religion, rather than being of a historical nature, then each religion with a substantial stake in Arkansas should have an opportunity to pursue the placement of a culturally appropriate monument. This includes the request by the Universal Society of Hinduism to construct a monument of their choosing to best represent their religion.
Roman Catholic pastor Father Charles T. Durante said: I think that the government should remain neutral on matters of religion, as our Constitution so states.
Arkansas Secretary of State Office, however, recently denied Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed’s request of erecting privately funded Lord Hanuman statue in Arkansas State Capitol grounds in Little Rock.
Zed has said that they were now thinking of sending the Lord Hanuman statue on Capitol grounds request to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Hutchinson reportedly signed into law a bill on April eight allowing a privately funded Ten Commandments monument on Arkansas Capitol grounds. It could reportedly go up in the next few months.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Arkansas had now 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 perfect grammarian. If permitted, we planned to make it big and weather-proof, Zed added.
Zed indicated that besides honoring the Arkansas Hindus, this statue would raise awareness of Arkansans about Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought.
There are about three million Hindus living in USA and ultimate goal of Hinduism is moksh (liberation).
The Arkansas State Capitol, constructed between 1899 and 1915 on the site of the old state penitentiary using prison labor, already has multiple monuments on its grounds. Lonely Planet describes Arkansas as “America’s overlooked treasure” and “nature lover’s Shangri La”; and Walmart is headquartered here.