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Indiana governor signs bill, authorizes Ten Commandments display in schools

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Indiana Gov. Frank O’Bannon made it legal to post the Ten Commandments in schools and other government offices after he signed legislation that had received overwhelming bipartisan support. The law takes effect July 1.

O’Bannon, a Democrat, also ordered a new monument to be erected on the statehouse grounds that will feature a display of the Ten Commandments, the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The directives came after O’Bannon signed the bills March 14.

“For more than three decades, a monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments stood on the statehouse lawn as a reminder of some of our nation’s core values,” O’Bannon said in a prepared statement.

“Soon those words will stand alongside the abiding principles of our form of government, especially its protections of individual rights. They’re ideals we all need to be reminded of from time to time,” he said.

Effective July 1, the House Enrolled Act 1180 will permit all state agencies and schools to display the Commandments. The legislation passed the Indiana House of Representatives, 90-6 and in the Senate, 40-10.

Rep. Brent Steele, a co-author of the legislation authorizing the monument, praised the vote. “Our entire statehouse is rich with other monuments to our heritage,” he said. “This new monument will soon take its proper place alongside such historic figures as Oliver P. Morton, Thomas A. Hendricks, George Washington, and Christopher Columbus.”

“The new monument will be an integral part of the statehouse setting,” Gov. O’Bannon added. “It will honor the history of our state and our nation.”

However, the Ten Commandments may not be displayed alone. According to the legislation, the Commandments must be displayed along with other historical documents.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union said the legislation violates the Constitution and a lawsuit could be on the horizon.

The ICLU argues that the law violated the “establishment of religion” clause, which has been interpreted to mean “the separation of church and state.” The group promised to sue shortly after the law takes effect this summer.

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  • Todd Starnes