Miss. Legislators Want Commandments, Beatitudes Posted

Blessed art the publicly pious politicians for they shall see re-election.

That seems to be the credo of some Mississippi legislators. The House of Representatives there has approved legislation allowing the Ten Commandments, "In God We Trust" posters and the Beatitudes of Jesus to be posted in public buildings.

The measure passed on a 94-16 vote March 10. As originally written, the bill mentioned only the Ten Commandments, but two representatives altered it to include "In God We Trust" and the Beatitudes nine sayings of Jesus taken from the Sermon on the Mount.

Rep. Tommy Reynolds (D-Charleston) said the Beatitudes should be included because they often get "short shrift." Reynolds advised lawmakers not to worry about the constitutionality of the bill, remarking, "I think the Beatitudes will be there long after any court ceases to exist."

Only a few representatives spoke out against the proposal. "I don't need to carry a badge to prove I believe in God," said Rep. Willie Bailey (D-Greenville). "I don't need to post the Ten Commandments to follow them. This bill is going to violate the separation of church and state."

In Idaho, meanwhile, a proposal to display the Ten Commandments in the state capitol building has been rejected by the Senate State Affairs Committee by a 5-4 vote.

The proposal called for displaying the Decalogue alongside six other documents, including the Magna Carta and the preamble to the Idaho Constitution. But some lawmakers still had concerns.

"I want to err on the broad side of maintaining that separation [of church and state]," said Joe Stegner, assistant Republican floor leader. "This comes too close."