Religious Displays Ok'd in South Carolina

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The Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer may soon adorn the hallways of South Carolina's public buildings.

Gov. Mark Sanford signed a bill into law late Wednesday, allowing the religious documents to be displayed for their historical importance. His decision marks one of many religious-related nods within the past month.

Last week, state Republicans allowed passage of a bill approving a license plate with a cross and the words "I Believe" on it. And in May, Gov. Sanford signed legislation that advises state officials on how to pray before meetings.

Before signing the religious displays bill, Sanford consulted Attorney General Henry McMaster, who had already written a non-binding opinion supporting the legislation.

In it, McMaster argues that the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer also have a secular purpose and "an established place in teaching American constitutional history and civic virtue."

He added that the documents would teach morality, ethics and integrity, and would survive any court challenge.

If left unchallenged, the law will allow schools and other public places to display a set of 11 documents lawmakers say are important to foundation of law and government. Those documents include the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, Emancipation Proclamation and Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech, as well as the national motto, "In God We Trust."

Rep. Greg Delleney supported the bill and said it's unfortunate some people want to exclude God from the public.

"The strength of this nation was...founded on Christian principle," he said. "When I was going to school coming up this wouldn't even have been a question."

South Carolina's Senate passed the legislation May 22.

"Some people felt like there was no way they could go back home and explain why they voted against the Lord's Prayer," said Sen. Larry Martin, who helped lead the issue through..

Sen. Mike Fair called the bill "sound" and added, "It's not religious. It's historical."

Others fear the bill will lead to unneeded court battles and burdens on taxpayer money.

Sources: Greenville News, Associated Press, WSPA-7

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