Not-So-Separate Church and State in Georgia

April 3, 1999 12:00 am

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ACLU News Wire: 04-03-99 — Not-So-Separate Church and State in Georgia

DAHLONEGA, GA — Lumpkin County will keep its controversial Ten Commandments plaque mounted in the hallway of its courthouse as part of a “citizenship display,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today.

In response to threats of American Civil Liberties Union intervention if the religious plaque was not removed, the county originally told the ACLU that the plaque — cast in bronze and mounted at the top of a stairway in the courthouse in Dahlonega — would be removed last month. But the county then postponed the removal.

“We sent them some guidelines of things that might be acceptable,” Debbie Seagraves, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia, told the paper. “But we feel it would be very difficult to convert it into a secular display, and we are ready at a moment’s notice to continue with the suit.”

Seagraves told the paper that the plaque was brought to the ACLU’s attention by several residents who said they were worried about the violation of constitutional rights.

The paper reported that the new display would have several Ten Commandment plaques similar to the one hanging, and would include quotations from Hammurabi’s Code from ancient Babylon and the ancient Roman Justinian Code.

ACLU affiliates in Alabama, Ohio, South Carolina and Indiana have succeeded in getting courts to rule that displays of the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional under the religious liberty provision of the first Amendment.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 3, 1999

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