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Ten Commandments Displays Challenged in Several States

Barrows County in Georgia may have to quit defending a Ten Commandments display due to lack of money, a federal appeals court in Philidelphia lets a Ten Commandments plaque stand, and
( [email protected] ) Oct 11, 2004 09:23 PM EDT

Several court cases involving Ten Commandments displays may soon reach a conclusion.

The Ten Commandments controversy entered the national spotlight after former Alabama Justice Roy Moore refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse. He lost his office as a result and the U.S. Supreme Court denied last week an appeal to reclaim his position. The Ten Commandments monument is now on a national tour sponsored by a veterans group.

One Ten Commandments display at the Barrow County Courthouse in Georgia may meet a similar fate as Moore’s 5,300-pound structure.

The Barrow County Commission is holding a meeting today to discuss whether there is enough money to keep paying to defend a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Commission Chairman Doug Garrison said the county has already spent $135-140,000, funded by private donations from Ten Commandments-Georgia Incorporated, on the lawsuit since it was filed in September 2003.

Elsewhere, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia upheld a lower court’s decision to allow the display of a Ten Commandments plague to remain in front of the Allegheny County Courthouse among other historical monuments.

The appellate court rejected arguments filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State that the Commandments amounted to a government endorsement of religion. The plaque is displayed in the same way as more than a dozen other plaques outside the building and none are given particular prominence over the others, declared the court. AUSCS has not announced whether it will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Several other cases involving the display of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky may be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel, a national public interest firm, is awaiting a response from the High Court. The group is defending Ten Commandment displays in school buildings in Harlan County where it appears together with other historical documents, and in courthouses in McCreary and Pulaski County.

“The Ten Commandments belong in a display of historical documents important to the foundation of our country,” said Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel.

He added, “American history would be incomplete without reference or acknowledgement of the significant role religion, including the Ten Commandments, has played in our founding, history, and legal jurisprudence. Those who seek to remove the Ten Commandments from public display are engaging in the worst kind of historical revisionism.”