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Posting the Ten Commandments can be as simple as a book cover

WASHINGTON (BP)–Regardless of the outcome of the battle over public displays of the Ten Commandments, Christians are taking steps to circulate them in other ways to attract attention to God’s law.
Whether on book covers, bookmarks or increasing their profile in churches, supporters say Christians should lead the way in fostering awareness of the law Moses handed down from Mount Sinai.
Over the last few years, the Family Research Council (FRC) has distributed a pair of book covers, one listing the Ten Commandments and the other featuring Christ’s directive to love God and one’s neighbor. On the latter, the reverse side talks about what “A.D.” means as the year 2000 approaches.
Chief spokesperson Janet Parshall said the book covers have “sold like hotcakes” in recent months. While the FRC distributed 200,000 covers prior to the current school year, sales had nearly doubled mid-September.
“When a student walks into school with one of our Ten Commandment book covers, I’d love to be a fly on the wall,” said Parshall, a former teacher, suggesting it will prod students to ask such questions as, “You got that on your book? Do you believe that stuff? What does it say?”
When she was in education, she used “story starters,” giving students a one-line statement to spark creation of a story — such as the familiar, “My favorite summer vacation.”
“These covers will be unbelievable story starters to talk about the greatest story ever told,” said Parshall, a member of Spotswood Baptist Church in Spotsylvania, Va.
(FRC’s Ten Commandment book covers are available for $4 per 10 covers by calling 1-800-225-4008.)
For the past 18 months, Claude Witt has used his church appearances for the Temperance League of Kentucky to also deliver a message about the Ten Commandments, which are found in Exodus 20:3-17.
The Temperance League leader, who usually speaks about anti-alcohol and anti-gambling initiatives, also distributes different-colored bookmarks emblazoned with God’s law.
“Every church service we go to we leave at least 50 of ’em,” said Witt, a trustee of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “We tell churches this is our way of getting the Ten Commandments back in schools.”
California pastor Wiley Drake, founder of Americans United for Unity of Church and State, said he realized that before telling government leaders to display the law in public, he needs to prod churches to show the way.
Drake, who announced the group’s formation on July 4, said he recently sent out 300 e-mail messages asking if anyone had the Ten Commandments displayed in their churches. Nobody responded, he said, acknowledging that his congregation has yet to do so.
“It’s a bit hypocritical of us to ask the city, county and courthouses to put ’em up when they’re not up in our own churches,” said the pastor of First Southern Baptist of Buena Park, Calif.
While the Ten Commandments haven’t been displayed in the church’s 400-seat auditorium, Drake said he plans to address that issue in the near future. He has asked his network of about three dozen supporters and organizations if anyone knows of a company producing an attractive, mounted set that can be placed in sanctuaries and other buildings.
Once other churches affirm that they have followed suit, he plans to ask if they are interested in providing free copies to municipal governments, as well as to civic groups and other organizations.
While his group’s first goal is to get the Ten Commandments displayed in schools, Drake said he hopes the effort will help re-establish better rapport with educators.
“For years, the lines of communication between churches and schools have been lousy,” he said. “We often find ourselves in a negative environment in dealing with our schools.”
His group also hopes to forge a better relationship with legislators. This past summer, it supported the first pastor’s day at California’s state capitol. Organized by a group known as Capitol Ministries, it gathered pastors together to pray for assembly representatives and visit their offices.

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  • Ken Walker