Blessed are the publicly pious politicians for they shall curry favor with the voters.
That seems to be the scriptural edict of the moment in Mississippi, where legislators have passed a bill that would permit the Ten Commandments, “In God We Trust” posters and excerpts from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to be posted in public schools and other government buildings.
Both chambers passed the bill by overwhelming margins. In the House the vote was 97-15, and in the Senate it was 40-4. A handful of lawmakers suggested that the state wait until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on government-sponsored Commandments displays this June, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, has said he will sign the measure.
“I think that’s another sign of the times, certainly when you look at the message being sent by the Republicans at the national level,” Marty Wiseman, director of Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute for Government, told the Associated Press. “The general public doesn’t sit around pondering the division of church and state. They just know that their religion is important to them and the bill doesn’t sound too bad.”
In other news about religious symbols on public property:
Members of Michigan’s House of Representatives have voted 74-34 in favor of a bill that would permit Ten Commandments displays on government property.
The measure allows such displays as long as they include other religious and historical documents that have influenced U.S. law. The Michigan Senate will not consider the proposal until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on two pending Commandments cases.
A poll taken in the state showed support for the measure but also found that most voters gave the matter low priority.
“They support the Ten Com\xadmandments, but it shouldn’t be a top thing for the legislature to deal with same on Pledge of Allegiance,” Ed Sarpolus of the firm EPIC/MRA said. “The public is telling the Legislature, ‘You have more important things to focus on.’”
Pennsylvania legislators are debating a bill that would require the display of “In God We Trust” posters in public schools.
Mississippi and Virginia already have laws mandating the posting of the national motto in public schools, and several other states have debated the matter as well.
“It sounded right to me,” said state Rep. Bob Bastian, a Republican who is among the measure’s sponsors. “We’re a country that was formed by Christian-thinking people, and we need to continue to have our trust in God.”