A copy of the Ten Commandments now hangs in the State Capitol next to eight other historical documents.
It has sparked a new round of debate about whether religious documents belong in a government building.
A new state law that went into effect in May makes it legal to display the Ten Commandments in all public buildings in Georgia. But opponents say the display blurs the separation of church and state and may offend Capitol visitors that don’t share the Christian faith.
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel who has successfully defended similar cases, says the constitutional argument comes down to the motive behind hanging the display:
“If the motive was clearly religious, that they wanted to put it up only to showcase a religious viewpoint, then that would be unconstitutional. But if the motive was either silent and you couldn’t discern the motive, or if the stated motive was educational purposes, then that would be held as constitutional.”
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens purchased the documents:
“I’ve been involved 14 years in the legislature and now 2 years as Insurance Commissioner and I thought it would be nice to let the tourists, the people in the Capitol, see what the history of our faith and freedom in the United States is.”
The US Supreme Court last ruled on challenges to Ten Commandment displays in 2005.