Ten Commandments to Be Displayed in Capitol

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A panel decided Wednesday to include the Ten Commandments in a display of historical documents inside the Michigan Capitol.

The Capitol Committee voted 11-1 to approve a proposal that unless it's changed would show the commandments as part of an educational display explaining the history of law and government. Other documents could include the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Northwest Ordinance and U.S. and state constitutions.

"I see this as an opportunity to teach people about the history of our state," said Tom George, a Republican from Portage and one of four state senators on the committee.

The panel also includes four state representatives and four members of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration. Department of Management and Budget Director Lisa Webb Sharpe cast the lone "no" vote but declined to say why.

In March 2005, the House approved a resolution encouraging the Capitol Committee to create a public display of the commandments.

Three months later, the U.S. Supreme Court laid out the conditions under which commandments exhibits may be displayed. The court said exhibits will be upheld if their main purpose is to honor the nation's legal rather than religious traditions, and if they do not promote one religious sect over another.

Critics have said the House's intent last year was overly religious and therefore unconstitutional. But last week, the House approved a new measure that doesn't specifically mention the Ten Commandments or refer to religion when referring to "historic documents."