By Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) sponsored a bill that passed out of the Governmental Affairs Committee with a unanimous vote. It has been passed out of committee three other times but blocked on the Senate floor by the previous Democratic Majority.
Representative Duwayne Bridges (R-Valley) is introducing the bill in the House.
The bill, SB7, allows the display of the ten commandments in public buildings and public schools. It states, “This bill would propose a constitutional amendment which would provide that property belonging to the state may be used to display the Ten Commandments and that the right to display the Ten Commandments on property owned or administrated by a public school or public body is not restrained or abridged.”
Dial said there will be no cost to the state to defend this bill. “I have had organizations outside this state who are willing to defend the constitutionality of it if it is questioned.”
Chairman Brian Taylor (R-Prattville)offered a friendly amendment. He said, “I appreciate you bringing this bill. I know you have been bringing this bill for a long time. Many of us agree that we have gone too far in this country trying to keep God and religion out of the schools and other public buildings particularly when we are talking about documents that have secular significance too–such as the ten commandments that formed the foundation of the rule of law.”
This amendment was introduced in order to make sure that courts understand their reason for passing this bill and to make it as strong as possible in case it is challenged in the courts.
The amendment deletes the references to the ten commandments and inserts “any document on display in the United States Supreme Court which reflects the foundation of the rule of law in America, notwithstanding that such documents may also have religious significance.”
Dial said, “We need to get back to the foundation on which this country was founded.”
Senator Trip Pittman (R-Daphne) added, “These are good rules from a secular standpoint as well as a religious standpoint. The rule of law that our civilization and a lot of civilizations have resulted from the [ten commandments].”
The bill is permissive, meaning that it is not mandatory for a public building or a public school to display the ten commandments.
“Our ultimate goal is to place the ten commandments in public buildings and especially in schools,” said Dial. “If the ten commandments is hanging in the hallways and some child walks down through there that had the intention of doing drastic bodily harm to another individual or individuals that day and he happens to see the ten commandments and that changed and saved a life, it will be worth all of the effort. This may be the only time some of these students would see the ten commandments.”
If the bill passes both the Senate and the House it will be placed on the ballot for Alabama voters in November.