Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged education officials in South Carolina to ignore an attorney general's opinion saying that the Ten Commandments may be displayed in public schools.
In an Aug. 11 letter to the South Carolina State Board of Education, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn charged that Attorney General Charles M. Condon's analysis is "flawed and misleading."
In the non-binding opinion, Condon asserts that public schools may display the Ten Commandments as part of an effort to teach students about law, history or culture. In fact, says Lynn, the U.S. Supreme Court has never upheld such displays.
"Condon's opinion is incredibly irresponsible," said Lynn. "Any public school official who follows his advice is risking a lawsuit and would end up squandering taxpayer money trying to defend a practice the Supreme Court has already struck down."
Condon issued the opinion at the request of Rep. Brad Jordan (R-Anderson.) Jordan's brother, Henry, sits on the state Board of Education and has launched a personal crusade to get public schools to display the Ten Commandments.
Henry Jordan first raised the issue on May 13, 1997. At that time, he sparked controversy when, after being asked how Buddhists and Muslims might react to his proposal, he snapped, "Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims — and put that in the minutes!"
Remarked Lynn, "The Supreme Court has settled this issue. Public schools are places for education, not religious indoctrination. Henry Jordan, Brad Jordan and Charles Condon ought to stick to public concerns and let our houses of worship deal with religion."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.