MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Residents in Alabama will vote this November on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would expressly allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public buildings and schools.
The Alabama House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved S.B. 181 on Thursday 66 to 19 after the measure likewise cleared the House last month with a strongly supportive vote of 23-3.
As previously reported, the bill, presented by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, allows the Ten Commandments to be displayed if desired but does not require it, and mandates that the display be done in what is deemed a constitutional manner.
“Property belonging to the state may be used to display the Ten Commandments, and the right of a public school and public body to display the Ten Commandments on property owned or administrated by a public school or public body in this state is not restrained or abridged,” the bill reads in part. “The civil and political rights, privileges, and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his or her religious belief.”
“The Ten Commandments shall be displayed in a manner that complies with constitutional requirements, including, but not limited to, being intermingled with historical or educational items, or both, in a larger display within or on property owned or administrated by a public school or public body,” it outlines.
Dial, 81, said that he believes that children might rethink harming their fellow students if they see God’s law before their eyes.
“I believe that if you had the Ten Commandments posted in a prominent place in school, it has the possibility to prohibit some student from taking action to kill other students,” Dial stated, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. “If this bill stops one school shooting in Alabama, just one, then it’s worth the time and effort we’re putting into it.”
Some Democratic lawmakers have been opposed to the measure, expressing certainty of a lawsuit and remarking that government officials should live the Commandments, as that would be the best form of display.
“The devil can display the Ten Commandments,” said Rep. Berry Forte, D-Eufaula, according to AL.com.
“The best way this body could display the Ten Commandments is to live them,” also remarked Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, according to the Montgomery Advisor. “If we want it displayed like we display our fine china, I think that’s against the teachings of Jesus.”
As previously reported, the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Van Orden v. Perry, which upheld a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol, noted that religious displays may be found in a number of federal government buildings.
“For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897,” it wrote. “And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8).”
“A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the national archives,” the court outlined. “Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled ‘The Spirit of Law’ has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments.”