Alabama House Overwhelmingly Approves Bill That Will Put Ten Commandments Displays in Public Schools

Last week, we learned that Alabama State Rep. Duwayne Bridges (R, obviously) was sponsoring a bill that would allow public display of the Ten Commandments:

Rep. Duwayne Bridges

House Bill 45 would amend the state Constitution to say:

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.

The legality of these displays is sure to be questioned now that the House has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change:

Representatives voted 77-19 Thursday for the proposed constitutional amendment that would also have to be approved by voters.

Opposed lawmakers say the proposal is unconstitutional and that lawmakers were setting the state up for a lawsuit.

Bridges doesn’t give a damn about any potential lawsuits — all that matters is that he can now tell Alabama voters that he successfully pushed religion into the schools and reap all the benefits from that. It’s not like Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suffered long term after moving a giant Ten Commandments monument into the courthouse…

One of Bridges’ colleagues added that he saw no problem with the law because the Commandments were universally respected:

After reading the Ten Commandments on the House floor, Rep. Richard Baughn, R-Lynn, said, “I don’t know why anybody would disagree with these ten.”

Well, to begin with, the first four are meaningless to non-Christians and I’m not sure why government officials think its their place to teach young children not to commit adultery…

Incidentally, Kyle Whitmore, a reporter for The Birmingham News, has a eye-opening list of things that were said during the debate over this bill:

School shootings, patricide and matricide are due to the Ten Commandments not being displayed in schools and other government buildings. — Rep. Bridges.

People who believe in Mohammed practice “Muslimism.” — Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile.

“Love thy neighbor” is one of the Ten Commandments. — Rep. Bridges, responding to a question from Rep. Holmes.

“Love thy neighbor” is not one of the Ten Commandments but has something to do with coveting. — Rep. Bridges correcting himself a few minutes later.

The annotation “AD” stands for “after death,” (not “Anno Domini”). — Rep. Bridges.

Does anyone really think these people have thought through the legal ramifications of this bill? I guarantee you that most of them couldn’t even tell you what the Ten Commandments are.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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