Alabamians will have the chance to vote on wether to allow state properties, such as schools, to display the Ten Commandments in a November election ballot initiative.
Voters will cast their ballot for or against SB181, which if approved by the voters would add an amendment to the state constitution that would give properties belonging to the state the option to display the Ten Commandments. The state may not use its money to fund displays, funding must come from private entities.
The House of Representatives passed the ballot provision 66-19 on Thursday. The proposal was approved by the Senate last month, and since it’s a Constitutional amendment, it does not need to be signed by Gov. Kay Ivey.
Republicans supporters of the proposal say it will reaffirm religious liberty, which is already under law.
“I wish and pray that we get to a point where people would be free to express faith without fear of being sued,” said Trussville-Republican state Rep. Danny Garrett.
Democratic opponents of the proposal think it would end up doing more harm than good; that it violates the separation of church and state, and would motivate federal lawsuits that could cost the state money.
“The Supreme Court and federal courts already ruled. We are going to get sued,” Russell County-Democrat state Rep. Berry Forte, told the Associated Press.
“I’m opposed to the bill because it’s unconstitutional and I’m trying to be fiscally conservative to try to save the state and courts money if they put it up there and it gets struck down,” said Lauderdale County-Democrat state Rep. Marcel Black in the same report. “This constitutional amendment is done for feel-good and political purposes.”
Black also told AL.com the he believes “the proposal is ‘an old trick’ intended to help draw Republican voters to the polls.”
Mobile-Democrat state Rep. Adline Clarke questioned whether people from other religions who displayed similar texts in public places would receive the same treatment, “public places belong to all people regardless of religion,” she told the Associated Press.
The proposal’s —sponsored by Lineville-Republican state Sen. Gerald Dial — final fate will be determined by Alabama voters in November.