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Things are going so well in the final year of the Pax Clintonia, says Chicago Tribune columnist John McCarron, that presidential candidates have little to talk about. "The Republican hopefuls," he writes, "have been reduced to calling for such things as the posting of the 10 Commandments in public school classrooms."Like many pundits, McCarron seems unable to smell the serious cultural decay that worries so many Americans. The effectiveness and the legality of posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms can be debated. But the pungent odor of moral decay is undeniable. The move to post the Ten Commandments—mainly as an effort to stop this kind of moral decay—got its serious start in 1995 with the case of Alabama circuit court Judge Roy Moore, who fought to keep a copy of the Decalogue on his courtroom wall. Since then Judge Moore has been speaking to citizen groups around the nation, urging them to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms. The Columbine High School massacre gave the movement a strategic boost. State and local governments have moved to post the Commandments (or something like them) in or near schools, and civil-liberties watchdogs have brought suits to keep the threat of religiously-based righteousness out of such tax-funded public spaces.


Is this another Christian fad—a kind of commandment mania? Gold-plated Ten Commandments charm bracelets ($17.99 at, bumper stickers, and T-shirts are among the hottest religious trinkets.Or is a serious moral crusade afoot? The headline on a January 7 Associated Press story claims, "Ten Commandments replacing abortion as key Christian issue, scholar says." That is not quite what the article quotes religious-studies scholar Frank Flinn of Washing ...

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March 6, 2000

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