After an interesting period of debate last week, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters a say in whether the Ten Commandments should be displayed in schools or other places.

Reading the transcripts of the debate is enough to give one pause, as we learn from our ‘honorable’ representatives some facts that may be less than factual, things like people who follow Mohammed practice “Muslimism” or having the Commandments continually referred to as the “10 Amendments” by some members.

Even the bill’s sponsor, our own retiring Rep. DuWayne Bridges, seemed to have trouble with the Biblical laws he was attempting to protect and defend, as he initially and incorrectly identified “Love thy neighbor” as one of the commandments.

For a group of people who claim to love and support the “word of God” as much as Alabama’s politicians claim to, it seems odd they would get one of their beloved commandments wrong, especially with at least one ordained minister in the chambers as a representative (Opelika’s own George Bandy) who should have helped correct them.

Though it would have been relevant to the debate at hand, no one thought to grab a Bible and actually read the Ten Commandments there in the chamber.

Rather than provide relevance or rationale, our state legislators simply continued to posture, inserting their own interpretations and synaptic misfirings into the “holy word of God” they all claim to defend so passionately.

Surely one of them, if not all of them, had a Bible in their offices they could brought with them to this discussion, but, alas, it appears any holy scripture found on Goat Hill is strictly ornamental and not meant for purposes of research or evidence.

Rather than spend time on some of the major issues still currently facing our state – unemployment, education funding, taxation issues – a good deal of time seems to have been spent arguing over whether or not to include John 3:16 in the bill for Biblical displays.

I don’t see religious belief or faith as bad things generally, but when politicians try to reach out with religion in mind, things seldom go well.

Even if you agree with the spirit of Rep. Bridges’ bill (and I would guess a number of you do), it should still give us pause that the politicians arguing to let the public vote on this issue aren’t well informed on said issue.

We elect these men and women to be our representatives, our voice on matters that are important to us, and this is how they use those powers?

Half-prepared arguments that pay lip service to something as important as religious faith shouldn’t be tolerated.

We make professed religious faith a litmus test for most of our statewide candidates here in Alabama, but we don’t hold them accountable to the tenets and practices of the faiths they claim to adhere to – that is, we can’t and don’t make them say some form of “shibboleth” (Judges 12:5-6) to prove their piety.

But perhaps I am simply overreacting and need to take a page from the BAT Bible (that’s Bridges Alabama Translation, for you uninitiated):

“And, lo, God had done gave Moses an 11th Amendment, just in case he needed it, what said ‘Love thy neighbor,’ like my son Jesus said.”


A native Opelikan, Cliff McCollum is an amateur field herpetologist, news editor and chicken salad mogul.