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Don't Trivialize The Ten Commandments, Christian Magazine Says.

The current drive to post the Ten Commandments in public schools and government buildings could ultimately trivialize a sacred religious text, Christianity Today magazine has warned.

In a March 6 editorial, the prominent evangelical Christian publication criticized "cultural decay" in society, but warned that the current Ten Commandments craze smacks of a fad and lends itself to "tokenism in religion."

"In an era in which we are struggling to find the proper place of religion in a pluralistic society, we must be careful neither to crusade for nor accept mere symbols," asserted the magazine. "Wall plaques rarely provoke deep moral reflection-especially in an increasingly cynical student body."

The editorial warns that proponents of posting the Ten Commandments at government facilities also run the risk of trivializing them. "Beyond tokenism, beyond being mollified by the symbolic use of the Decalogue, there is another danger: treating the Ten Commandments as a totem," says the editorial. "When something becomes a rallying point for a cause or an identifying symbol for a movement, it runs the danger of becoming an idol. Too often in the history of Christianity one element of the faith has been lifted out of its context, sloganized, and used to marginalize (or even imprison or kill) others, including other Christians. No one is talking about using the Ten Commandments that way now, but their political use could take us down that path."

The editorial concludes that the Ten Commandments are "not an easy-to-secularize list of behavioral guides. They are fundamentally and inherently religious." It calls on parents to "put these precepts to work where they make the most sense: in home, church and synagogue. And let their well-taught offspring be the salt that preserves the schools."

The full text of the editorial can be read online at: www.christianityonline. com/ct/current/0303/0303a.html.

In other developments:

* Gov. Bill Janklow (R) of South Dakota says he plans to sign a bill that permits display of the Ten Commandments in public schools along with other documents that have cultural, legal or historic significance.

"I realize there are questions about it, but the legislature feels very strongly about it," Janklow said. The governor insisted he supports the separation of church and state, adding, "But by the same token, [the bill] doesn't hurt anything."

* Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon (D) has signed legislation that permits government to display the Ten Commandments if they are included along with other "historic" documents. O'Bannon said the state will erect a monument featuring the Commandments, the preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on the statehouse lawn this summer. The Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has promised to sue.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2000
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