WASHINGTON – Religious leaders who support public display of the Ten Commandments pleaded their case at a news conference Thursday.
Noting they have distributed more than 400 small plaques featuring the Ten Commandments to members of Congress and that there is one carved into the Supreme Court building,the leaders said the fight for public display of the commandments is a concern for many people.
The National Clergy Council,which includes leaders of the Catholic,Evangelical,Orthodox and Protestant faiths,said it wants the issue to be part of this year's presidential campaign.
“People think if we allow the public display of the Ten Commandments that it would divide,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney,director of the Christian Defense Coalition. “No. It unites. It connects our culture and society. It is not divisive at all.”
The news conference featured a replica of a Ten Commandments monument that was sent to Israel.
Pinchas Gerber,director of the Shomron Development Fund in Israel,read about a case in Adams County,Ohio,in which Ten Commandments monuments were removed from in front of five public schools. He asked if he could have one of them,but Ohio monument supporters made a copy for him instead,in case they win their legal case to have the monuments restored.
Several of the U.S. religious leaders plan to attend a dedication ceremony for the 800 pound granite monument in Israel.
“The Ten Commandments give us a direct opportunity to have a relationship with God,” said Gerber at the news conference. “The first five deal with the relationship each individual has with God,and the other five deal with the relationships we have with people.”
Added Kenneth Johnson,president of the Adams County Ten Commandments Committee,“Although the Ten Commandments were removed from our schools,we're still seeing a move across our nation” in favor of public displays.
He and others said they supported the Alabama Supreme Court justice who lost his battle to display the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the court building.
While Adams County is awaiting an answer from a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals,the National Clergy Council is aiming to attract support from the Republican National Committee.
Rev. Rob Schenck,National Clergy Council president,said the council also hopes for support from President Bush,whom Schenck said is on record as favoring the public display of the Ten Commandments in schools.
“Bush will be a critical component,” Mahoney said. “President Bush,please do not take us for granted,because people might not show up in droves to vote.”
The council is calling on party leaders to adopt a planks in their platforms that endorse the public display of the Ten Commandments and to affirm that the United States is “One nation under God.”
“We want to make this an issue that can't be swept under the rug,” Schenck said.