Alabama voters in November will be asked to decide whether the state's constitution should be amended to explicitly permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools and buildings.
Voters on Nov. 6 will see a ballot question that asks them whether they approve amending the constitution by "authorizing the display of the Ten Commandments on state property and property owned or administrated by a public school or public body; and prohibiting the expenditure of public funds in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment."
The voter referendum was established by Senate Bill 181, which was approved by the state Senate in February and by the state House on March 22. The question did not need to go to the governor for approval to appear on the ballot.
The news website Alabama Political Reporter noted that bill sponsor Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) has proposed this amendment for several years. Speaking in February shortly after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Dial said the religious displays could prevent school shootings.
"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 said. "If this bill stops one school shooting in Alabama, just one, then it's worth the time and effort we're putting into it."
State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), who proposed a different bill that would have allowed Ten Commandments displays in public schools, theorized that many of the state's problems were due to a lack of religious faith and could be fixed by displaying the Decalogue, according to the news website AL.com.
"I think it can be argued that the root cause of most of the problems [referenced] ... happen because ... [people] left God," Henry said in March. "They forgot who Christ is in their life."
Opponents of SB 181, which passed along near-partisan lines in both chambers, said the bill was designed to increase turnout among Alabama's conservative and evangelical Christian voters for the 2018 midterm elections.
"We'll have an opportunity to show the state of Alabama, the nation and the world that...