Thomas Paine Day Vote Fails in Arkansas





Thomas Paine may have helped inspire the American Revolution, but inspiring Arkansas lawmakers to commemorate a day in his honor is another matter.

The proposal by Rep. Lindsley Smith, D-Fayetteville, to commemorate Jan. 29 as ''Thomas Paine Day'' failed in the state House of Representatives after a legislator questioned Paine's writings criticizing the Bible and Christianity.

The vote Thursday was 46-20 in favor of the measure, but 51 votes were needed to pass.

Smith said before the vote that Arkansas would join nine other states that have established Thomas Paine Day. She said the day would not be considered a state holiday and would not require any additional costs.

''I think if Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were standing here today, they would give you the same presentation about Thomas Paine,'' Smith said. ''He needs to be remembered and he's not remembered.''

But Rep. Sid Rosenbaum, R-Little Rock, quizzed Smith about Paine and quoted passages from Paine's book, ''The Age of Reason,'' which Rosenbaum criticized as anti-religion.

''He did some good things for the nation, but the book that he wrote was anti-Christian and anti-Jewish,'' Rosenbaum said. ''I don't think we should be passing things out like this without at least debating it and letting people in the House know what we're voting on.''


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