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`Heritage rock' in Florida excludes Muslims, Hindus.

A religious drive to display the Ten Commandments in the Polk County, Fla., administrative building will welcome Jews and Christians, but no other faith traditions, according a local minister who is organizing the effort.

The Rev. Mickey P. Carter, pastor of the Landmark Baptist Church, is heading a committee to create a religious monument on a rock in front of the public building. Carter announced that religious minorities including Hindus and Muslims are not welcome on the panel because he believes their faith traditions were not part of America's origins.

"It's a heritage rock, not a religious rock," Carter told the Lakeland Ledger. He added, "If they want to go to India or Pakistan and put up their own rock, that's fine. We certainly don't owe Hindus or Islam (a place on the Polk monument)."

According to the Associated Press, Harish Shah, a Hindu who is the former chairman of Polk's Indian Cultural Society, indicated he would like to see his faith represented on the monument.

Despite these concerns, the Polk County Commission voted unanimously in October to display the Commandments along with the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The move has been criticized by the local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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