Ten Commandments Projects Halts Operation

Apr 07, 2003 12:49 PM EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Ten Commandments project runs out of money, halting the effort to “renew America one child at a time.” George Kelly, founder of the project which pays the youth $10 to memorize the Commandments says the project is on hold “until the Lord provides additional money.”

Since the beginning of the project, 1997, there has been more than 15,000 “memorization affidavits” from children all over the States.

"We are victims of success," said 76-year-old George Kelley, a retired flower shop owner.

Nathaniel Nimtz, a fourth-grader at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church and School in Birmingham, Mich., took advantage of the offer after his father read about it.

"He probably had his check within about a week," said Mark Nimtz, who is now teaching his second-grade daughter, Elizabeth, the commandments. "I think it's awesome."

The project began as a response to the mass murder case in Tennesse, where a part time cook murdered seven workers. Kelly and his wife Marians started the project with help from their friends feeling that children who memorized the Ten Commandments would stop to think before they killed, lie or steal.

To qualify for the $10, children had to be 16 or younger, live in the United States and recite the commandments to a nonparental adult witness, such as a pastor, rabbi, priest or teacher, who would sign an affidavit pledging that they heard the child's recitation. Many donations have come in along with the affidavits, but the money could not keep up with demand.

The ministry received almost 15,000 checks in the six months after an Associated Press coverage on the project; for the first 5 years of its operation, from 1997 to 2002, they wrote only 7,500 checks.

Kelly and his wife dipped into a personal retirement account to help run the project, but they have no more to give.

"Really, it would be a shame if this thing stopped," Kelley said. "But that's not in our hands."

By Pauline J.