Ten Commandments vote splits religious leaders

Published June 19, 1999|Updated Sept. 29, 2005

Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson praised the House of Representatives' vote to permit display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings "as a tremendous victory for people of faith."

Meanwhile, the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance, called the vote a "manipulation of Scripture to justify religious discrimination" and advance a partisan political agenda.

Predictably, religious leaders split along conservative-liberal lines over Thursday's House passage of an amendment to the juvenile crime bill. The measure was approved 248-180, even as opponents noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled almost two decades ago that posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings illegally breeches the church-state constitutional divide.

Taking note of the court decision, Robertson called the vote "a courageous move toward bringing values back into our public schools after decades of banishment by the courts. . . . Allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted on a schoolhouse wall is a common-sense measure that reaffirms the traditional moral values that our nation was built on."

On the liberal side, the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said House Republicans who were the amendment's principal supporters "politicized religion" with the measure. Although he expects the amendment to be defeated in the Senate, Lynn said his group would take the issue to court, should the amendment somehow survive the legislative process and become law.

"It will not stand," he said.