Preliminary approval was given by Virginia
lawmakers to a measure that would allow voluntarily posting of the
Ten Commandments as well as other documents by public schools.
The state Board of Education would be required
by the measure to write guidelines for displaying the Ten Commandments
in classrooms, along with the text from three documents: the First Amendment, the Declaration Of Independence
and the Virginia Constitution.
On February 7, 2002, the Virginia House
Of Delegates approved the measure with a 53-44 vote.
Originally, only the Ten Commandments was
to be included in the measure. However,
it was amended to include the other documents.
The measure did not appear to violate the Constitutionally
required separation of church and state said the state attorney general’s
It would be inappropriate to post the Ten
Commandments next to the other documents since the bill is about religion
argued opponents. Delegate
Albert Pollard (Democrat) said, “Here
we are taking a sacred document and we’re putting it next to worthy
but secular documents and, in my mind, trivializing it.
In my mind, they are not worthy of being placed next to the
word of God.” On the other hand, the Commandments outline
widely accepted values said Delegate Robert Marshall (Republican):
“It’s curious to me how a precept against stealing would harm a child,
except maybe one who wants to steal.”
However, on February 14, 2002, after Delegate
Scott Lingamfelter (sponsor of the bill) was grilled by the Senate
Education and Health Committee, a 9-6 vote by the committee members
killed the measure. Their
concern was over his intent on submitting legislation similar to a
Kentucky law that in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.
(Larry O’Dell, “Va. Lawmakers OK Decalogue
Bill,” The Associated Press,
February 8, 2002; “Senate panel kills Ten Commandments in schools,”
The Associated Press, February 14, 2002)
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