- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — 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 state Rep. Lindsley Smith, Fayetteville Democrat, 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; 51 votes were needed for passage.

Miss Smith said before the vote that Arkansas would join nine 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,” Miss Smith said. “He needs to be remembered, and he’s not remembered.”

But state Rep. Sid Rosenbaum, Little Rock Republican, quizzed Miss Smith about Paine and quoted passages from Paine’s book, “The Age of Reason,” which Mr. Rosenbaum called anti-religious.

“He did some good things for the nation, but the book that he wrote was anti-Christian and anti-Jewish,” Mr. 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.”

State Rep. Chris Thyer, Jonesboro Democrat, said he will ask the House to reconsider its vote. Miss Smith said she was hopeful the measure would pass later.

“I was surprised,” Miss Smith said. “He’s seen by those we respect most as a person who should be respected and honored.”

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