Commandment Controversy on Capitol Grounds

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Several dozen people on Wednesday stepped on the back of a flatbed truck parked in front of the Capitol to get a close look at a large granite Ten Commandments monument that once stood in the Alabama judicial building.

State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Kalamazoo, organized the Capitol stop as part of his statewide tour with the 5,300-pound display.

"These commandments are the foundation of our society," Hoogendyk said during an afternoon rally on the Capitol steps. "It is the foundation for the freedoms we hold dear."

Other speakers at the rally praised former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who lost his job as Alabama's chief justice in November 2003 after defying a federal order to remove the monument he installed in the state judicial building.

"He knew what he was doing," said Jim Cabaniss, one of the people taking the monument across the country.

A handful of protesters who watched Wednesday's rally in Lansing said putting the monument on public land is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of church and state. Some booed the speakers and held up signs that said "Keep religion out of government."

The monument is touring the state as lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the Ten Commandments to be shown on property leased or owned by the state, school districts or local governments. The commandments would have to be shown with other historical documents.

A state House committee is expected to vote on the bill in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, isn't expected to rule for a few months on whether such exhibits violate the constitutional separation of church and state or are a secular tribute to America's legal heritage.