Alabama voters decided to put God back in schools on November 6.
An overwhelming 71.66 percent of voters approved Amendment 1 on Election Day to display the Ten Commandments on public property, including public schools. The measure, which also spells out sacred religious liberties, will now be enshrined in the state’s constitution, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
“I think this sends a strong message not only to the state but to the whole nation that this country is founded upon the principle of the Ten Commandments, and I think it will be a step forward,” Sen. Gerald Dial, the amendment’s sponsor, told the news site.
The measure states the Ten Commandments must be displayed “in a manner that complies with constitutional requirements” in a historical context, and prohibits state funds for paying any legal expense associated with defending the law.
“It just means you can place it with the Bill of Rights, you can place it with the Preamble to the Constitution or any kind of document that a document or teacher places in a public building,” Dial said.
According to Amendment 1: “Every person shall be at liberty to worship God according to the dictates of his or her own conscience.”
“The civil and political rights, privileges, and capacities of no person shall be diminished or enlarged on account of his or her religious belief,” the document reads.
Dean Young, head of the Ten Commandments Amendment PAC, said the issue boiled down to a simple decision for voters.
“Do the people of Alabama want to acknowledge God, the God of the Old and New Testament, the Christian God? Do we want to acknowledge the God that our nation was founded upon?” Young told CNS News. “Alabamians will vote, they will reckon on that day with God how they vote on this, that’s how serious this is. Either we stand for God or we won’t.”
The Alabama American Civil Liberties Union and others have a decidedly different take, and they contend the Amendment sets up schools to face litigation.
“The government is still prohibited from displaying the Ten Commandments if it would violate the U.S. Constitution,” the group wrote in a prepared statement. “What is likely, however, is that its passage will encourage public bodies to erect constitutionally questionable religious displays featuring the Ten Commandments and give officials false comfort that they will be safe from costly litigation as a result. They will not be.”
“This is feel-good legislation that merely sets up entities to be sued if they display the Ten Commandments,” Alabama ACLU Executive Director Randall Marshall told CNS. “The fact of the matter is, if the purpose of the display of the Ten Commandments is religious, it’s going to be unconstitutional.”
Alabama schools and others across the country have feuded for decades with anti-religion groups working to eradicate all references to God from public life. In many cases, local school officials are quick to remove the Ten Commandments or other religious references when faced with legal threats.
The issue has also reached Alabama’s highest court, where former Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from his position in 2003 for erecting a Ten Commandments monument in the state Judicial Building, WBRC reports.