- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2000

DENVER Interest in gun-control legislation has boomed since the Columbine tragedy, but so has interest in building student character after the evil unleashed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
With that in mind, the Colorado legislature is considering a proposal to require schools to post the Ten Commandments and offer a moment of silent reflection on our heritage as a free people in one nation under God.
"Since Columbine, we're dealing with a new level of concern that value-free education is failing, and in some cases failing fatally," said state Sen. John Andrews of Golden, who sponsored the bill.
Among the legislation's supporters is Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was shot and killed in the April 20 carnage. Harris and Klebold murdered 13 persons and injured 23 that day before taking their own lives.
Debate over displaying the Ten Commandments has raged for decades since the Supreme Court ruled in a 1980 Kentucky case that posting the Old Testament document in schools violated the separation of church and state.
Clearly, however, the Columbine massacre has emboldened supporters. In Tennessee, civic and religious leaders have staged at least two Ten Commandments rallies since November that drew thousands of supporters.
In the past year, seven Tennessee school districts have voted to allow the posting of the biblical laws. Similar movements are afoot in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Advocates of posting the Commandments won a major victory last week when the Indiana Senate voted 38-9 to approve a bill that would allow the biblical laws to be displayed as part of a larger group of historical documents.
In Colorado, the state Senate Education Committee is slated to vote on the Andrews bill Wednesday. Republican Gov. Bill Owens has said he'd welcome the opportunity to sign this bill, Mr. Andrews said.
At a packed hearing Thursday, Mr. Scott linked the removal of religion from the classroom to a rise in teen violence and pregnancies, and a drop in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.
Also speaking at the hearing were a group of Colorado high-school students, who asked whether Harris or Klebold might have been stopped from carrying out their plan if they had been required to spend a minute in reflection.
The American Civil Liberties Union has consistently challenged Ten Commandments postings the group filed suit in November against two Kentucky counties and one school district that began displaying the biblical text but Mr. Andrews says he believes his bill can be justified in court by playing up the document's historic significance.
He noted that the Colorado Supreme Court in 1995 allowed the display of a monument in a civic park that featured the Ten Commandments.
"Our argument is that an educated young person cannot be ignorant of the fact that this country was founded on the principles embodied by the Ten Commandments," he said. "This has legitimate secular and educational purposes."
Nonsense, said Bob Tiernan, Colorado chapter president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, who accused Mr. Andrews of being a religious fanatic and using Columbine to further his agenda.
"They're milking this Columbine thing, and it's ridiculous," said Mr. Tiernan. "These people suffered a tragedy, but lots of people suffer tragedies and their tragedy is no worse than any other.
"To take that and say, 'We need this in the schools to stop bad things from happening' is a non-sequitur," said Mr. Tiernan. "It's not going to stop bad things from happening."

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