Ten Commandments Displays on November Ballot in Alabama

Church State

After the voting in Alabama's House of Representatives, the decision whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed on state property is up to Alabama's voters in November. Representatives voted to advance a ballot provision that would amend Alabama's constitution to allow the Ten Commandments display on property belonging to public schools and other state property. The bill says the Ten Commandments can be displayed "in a manner that complies with constitutional requirements" alongside other historical or educational items as part of a larger display.

Republican senator Gerald Dial, who sponsored the bill and similar measures in the past, and other Republican supporters who spoke in favor of the bill, stated that the bill is an affirmation of the right to religious liberty. According to some Republican Representatives, more Ten Commandments displays will be useful as reminders of the nation's fundamental values. 

On the other hand, Democratic Representatives, who oppose the proposal, argue that the bill is not in accordance with the separation of church and state and that Ten Commandments displays could lead to public schools paying attorneys' fees if they face lawsuits. Democratic opponents also said that this bill is meant to help draw Republican voters to the polls during a state election year.

“This is absolutely a waste of the state’s time and potentially money,” Randall Marshall, executive director of The Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Particularly when Alabama is facing so many other problems like failing public schools and overcrowded prisons.”

15 years ago a federal judge ordered the biblical laws out of a state building and now Alabama's voters have the opportunity to allow them back. Roy Moore, who was chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court 15 years ago, refused to enforce a federal court order to remove a massive Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building in Montgomery. As a result, state judicial authorities expelled him from his position. This is not the only controversy and the Ten Commandments displays regularly provoked arguments in many states. As Huffington post reports, a privately funded monument to the biblical laws went up outside the Arkansas State Capitol last June, with the state Legislature’s approval. Less than 24 hours later, a man drove a car into the display. The destroyed monument will likely be replaced this April.

It is interesting how this kind of legislation passed both Alabama's State Senate and House of Representatives when the fundamental postulate is that the church and state should be separated. Displaying church related signs on state property is clearly not in favor of this type of separation, but the more important question is whether this bill has the potential to change something or it is just another useless waste of money and time.

Photo Credits: The Humanist

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