State legislatures nationwide are considering legislation intended to promote the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools or other public buildings -- a dangerous trend criticized by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
"This misguided attempt to have government interfere with religion is nothing short of appalling," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "Efforts like these are patently unconstitutional and a cynical effort on the part of some politicians to appear pious in an election year.
"The Ten Commandments have done pretty well for themselves for centuries; they don't need any help from politicians in these state legislatures," Lynn added.
Currently, Ten Commandments legislation is under consideration in 10 states and has made progress in three.
In addition, other states considering Ten Commandments legislation include Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma. According to the research of the AU Legislative Department, similar measures may be considered in the near future in Minnesota and North Carolina.
The onslaught of Ten Commandments legislation is being spurred by Religious Right groups. Late last year, the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based Religious Right organization, announced its "Hang Ten" project, intended to encourage government officials to endorse and publicly post the Decalogue.
"State legislators should listen to the Constitution, not the Religious Right, when it comes to these issues," Lynn said. "Federal courts have made it clear that the government cannot force religion on students in public schools."
The Supreme Court ruled in 1980 in Stone v. Graham that church-state separation forbids public schools to post the Ten Commandments.
"If any of these states are foolish enough to enact these bills into law, I would consider it an invitation to a lawsuit -- and you can write that in stone," Lynn concluded.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.
AU's 'Top Ten' Reasons Why Government Should Not Endorse The Ten Commandments -- http://www.au.org/pr11499.htm