They finally figured out a way to sneak them in. They are now "historical" documents and are included solely for that reason.
Of course, this begs the question: the Catholic or Protestant version of the Ten Commandments? (I bet I know the answer to that one!)
Senate bill allows display of Lord's Prayer, Ten Commandments
By Tim Smith • STAFF WRITER • May 23, 2008 • GREENVILLE NEWS
COLUMBIA -- The Senate passed a bill today that would allow displays in public buildings of the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer as historical documents.What else qualifies? What else might we get put on display? (I see no foreseeable end to the Bible verses.)
The bill, without the Lord’s Prayer amendment, already passed the House and now returns there for legislators to determine whether they agree with the Senate’s change. If they agree, the bill goes to Gov. Mark Sanford.
Passage came with one prominent opponent. Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell said the Lord’s Prayer amendment is "constitutional quicksand" that will draw a court challenge and unnecessary legal fees.
"There are at least five different versions of the Lord’s Prayer," he said. "I have no problem personally with the Lord’s Prayer being publicly displayed. But the courts have spoken pretty clearly about where they are on the separation of church and state and these documents."
The bill would allow public bodies, including schools, to display a set of 11 documents lawmakers say help make up the nation’s foundation of law and government. Included are the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation and Martin Luther King’s "I have a Dream" speech, as well as the national motto, "In God We Trust."
The documents must include language included in the bill that explains each document’s historical significance.
"The historical documents bill passed by the Senate is a win because it will help to further educate people about the documents that formed the foundation of our country’s history and provide deeper meaning to the great and rich history that we have in this country," said Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, who shepherded the issue through the Senate.
"It will also be a great tool for history, civic and government teachers to use in their classroom."
Martin said afterward that a number of senators were nervous about including the Lord’s Prayer but did so out of fear of what voters would think if they voted against it. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Brad Hutto, an Orangeburg Democrat.
"Some people felt like there was no way they could go back home and explain why they voted against the Lord’s Prayer," Martin said.
Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville said the bill is "sound." He added, "It’s not religious. It’s historical."
Parts of the Lord’s Prayer, Fair said, was referenced by an early governor of Georgia in removing a provision for debtors’ prison.
However, McConnell, the only senator voting against the bill, said if the Lord’s Prayer is left in, the bill will be overturned by the courts.
"I cannot vote for a bill when all of the advice from the lawyers leads you to the presumption that it is unconstitutional," he said.
"The taxpayers are going to end up footing the bill for all of this. If we had stuck to the documents that have been pretty much court tested, we would be fine. But we expanded it beyond that. And I believe it will cause the package to explode in the courts."
Sen. David Thomas, a Greenville County Republican, disagreed. "It’s true that the Lord’s Prayer wasn’t included in some of the test cases," he said. "But the condition of the test cases is whether the item is placed into historical context. I think they made it where we have a good shot at maintaining the constitutionality of it."
Thomas said he doesn’t mind the bill being challenged because it could expand the documents that can be set in such displays.
And if this is challenged in the courts, I don't want to pay for it. Do I get a choice?