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Lawmaker Proposes Putting The Ten Commandments In Each NC Classroom

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RALEIGH — The Ten Commandments, which offer spiritual guidance to many, have been a legal battle ground in a number of states.

Now, North Carolina lawmakers are nervously watching legislation passed by the House that would require public schools to display the Ten Commandments. The Senate votes next on the plan that many see as an invitation to a lawsuit. Supporters of the Commandments believe there is not a better guide to discipline in the public schools.

Lawsuits have been filed in several states to keep the Ten Commandments out of public schools. North Carolina could be the next test state if a state house proposal becomes law.

State Representative Don Davis, R-Harnett, has a stack of Bibles in his office. Each one represents a term in office. He says he reads from the Bible every day, often the Ten Commandments, and he has a print of the Commandments on his office wall -- similar to what would hang in public school classrooms if his idea passes.

"I felt like that if we are going to have other historical documents displayed in the schools, why not display the Ten Commandments?" Davis says.

The House added the Commandments provision to a bill the Senate passed called the Student Citizens Act. It focuses on lessons in citizenship and conduct -- which Davis thinks includes the values listed in the old Israelite Law.

However, Senate leaders worry about the lawsuits it could bring.

"Hopefully, the parents of our children will instruct them at home about (religion)," says Rep. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland. "Hopefully this is a part of everybody's lives. But I don't think we want to involve ourselves in litigation in trying to be rather than to seem."

"I would think the Senate would take a real hard look at it before they vote against that," says Davis, "because my goodness, a we have a lot of people in this state that believe in the Ten Commandments."

If passed, the Student Citizens Act would become effective in the 2002 school year.