Ten Commandments Statues May Stop School Shooters, Alabama Republican Says

The Alabama state Senate voted 23-3 Tuesday in favor of allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property. While touting the successful passage of the bill he’d sponsored, Republican State Senator Gerald Dial remarked that the Christian monument could help prevent school shootings.

State Democrats said the controversial bill would surely be met with separation of church and state lawsuits should it pass through the House of Representatives and a November statewide referendum from voters. But Dial, 81, stressed the importance of placing the symbol on public property, including at public schools, because it could cause a potential student shooter to rethink their attack plans.

“I believe that if you had the Ten Commandments posted in a prominent place in school, it has the possibility to prohibit some student from taking action to kill other students,” Dial told the Alabama Reporter. The senator’s comments came in the wake of the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and staff dead.

“If this bill stops one school shooting in Alabama, just one, then it’s worth the time and effort we’re putting into it,” Dial added.

The bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow the Ten Commandments or other religious symbols to “be displayed in a manner that complies with constitutional requirements, including, but not limited to, being intermingled with historical or educational items, or both, in a larger display.”

But Senate Democrats who voted against the bill say the proposal is an egregious breach of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

“While I understand where you’re going, I just have a problem with wanting to put into the Constitution—when we have a right to freedom of religion in this state and in this country—one sect or a religion and not allow all others,” Democratic Senator Bobby Singleton told the Alabama Reporter.

Dial also personally attempted to table another Democrat’s amendment that would have allowed for non-Christian symbols to also be displayed on public property.

“I’m Christian, and I believe in the Ten Commandments. But just like I believe in the Second Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment and the Thirteenth Amendment, I want to believe in the First Amendment also in terms of the freedoms that we give each other," argued Democratic Senator Linda Coleman-Madison.

But Coleman-Madison's proposed amendment for equal religious representation in public spaces died in a floor vote Tuesday.

The Ten Commandments controversy is nothing new to the state of Alabama.

Republican Roy Moore, whose failed U.S. Senate campaign ignited nationwide controversy last year over sexual misconduct accusations, first stirred legal debate in 2001 for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument he’d placed inside the State Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama. After the 2002 Glassroth v. Moore trial, judges in both district and appellate courts ruled that the Ten Commandments statue in his courtroom violated the Establishment Clause.

The then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice was ultimately forced from office for failing to comply with the ruling of the federal court that he had to remove the statue from the government building. The Alabama Senate has previously passed several similar bills allowing for the state to display religious symbols on public property but the votes have failed to pass through the House.

GettyImages-2433642 Roy Moore, whose failed U.S. Senate campaign ignited nationwide controversy last year over sexual misconduct accusations, first stirred legal debate in 2001 for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument he’d placed inside the State Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama Getty Images