Alabama is one step closer to amending its constitution to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all government buildings, including public schools.
Senate Bill 181 just passed in the House on Thursday. It had already passed in the Senate. And it doesn’t need the governor’s signature. It’ll go straight on the November ballot, where voters who nearly sent alleged child molester Roy Moore to Congress will decide if the Commandments can be plastered all over the place. (I guess they’ll ignore the line about adultery.)
The bill doesn’t necessarily violate the law because it calls for the Decalogue to be part of a larger display of historical materials. It also calls for private funds to pay for these monuments. But there’s a good chance some of those displays will downplay everything except the Commandments and the lawsuits will inevitably follow. Keep in mind that the bill singles out the Ten Commandments for display, which could be taken as an endorsement of Christianity.
That’s why it’s interesting that the bill specifically says taxpayer funds can’t be used to defend the Ten Commandments monuments in case there’s a lawsuit. They don’t specify who would pay in those situations… which seems like a rather important question left unanswered.
There’s absolutely no reason to support this amendment.
What it calls for is already legal, and what legislators really want is a way to promote Christianity (which isn’t legal). State Sen. Gerald Dial, the bill’s sponsor, even claimed that this amendment was needed because “it has the possibility to prohibit some student from taking action to kill other students.”As if a potential school shooter will see the words “Thou shalt not kill” and realize for the first time that murder is wrong.
As we posted earlier on this site, if Dial really wanted to stop school shootings, he’d restrict access to guns from people who shouldn’t have them. He didn’t go that route. He chose religion instead.
Because of that, here’s what voters will see on their ballots come November:
Every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, or, against his or her consent, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of religious worship, or to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for the support of any minister of the gospel. 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 civil and political rights, privileges, and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his or her religious belief. No public funds may be expended in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment.
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.
Alabama voters would be foolish to approve this amendment. But they showed they can do the right thing during last December’s special election. The question now is whether enough sensible people will strike down this proposal later this year.