Sunday, January 02, 2000

Ten Commandments movement gains momentum

The Associated Press

        PIKEVILLE, Ky. — With its message on yard signs, book covers and on the walls of courthouses and public classrooms, a Ten Commandments movement is pushing forward in Kentucky and nationwide.

        Proponents argue that the framework for America's system of laws is based on the commandments, and the religious rules should be displayed in schools. The postings are legal if bought with private funds, they say.

        Janet Parshall, spokeswoman for the Family Research Council, a Christian lobby group in Washington, D.C., says the movement stems from a “heartcry.” Her organization has distributed 750,000 Ten Commandments book covers.

        “I don't know, for example, if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had walked past a copy of the Ten Commandments if that might have been a deterrent to their behavior, but I'm willing to risk the try,” Ms. Parshall said, referring to the two shooters in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

        The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees.

        In Kentucky, the ACLU filed suit Nov. 18 against McCreary and Pulaski counties and the Harlan County schools after the commandments were displayed. The ACLU cites a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Kentucky case that the posting of the commandments in schools amounted to an unconstitutional government promotion of religion. The suits are pending.

        Kentucky is not alone in the movement. • Roy Moore, an Alabama circuit judge who refused to take down the commandments posted in his courtroom in 1995, has spoken about his case at Christian rallies across the country — including one Nov. 7 in Corbin that 3,000 attended.

        • In Altoona, Pa., religious leaders and school officials reached an agreement in August allowing for a new comparative course in religions and an after-school Ten Commandments club.


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