Ten Commandments for sale with other documents

WINDER - The organization that helped fund Barrow County's fight against a federal lawsuit over the Ten Commandments display in its county courthouse is offering a display that complies with state law.

The collection of nine historic documents that state law requires for a Foundations of American Law and Government Display is available from Ten Commandments-Georgia Inc., a nonprofit ministry. Officials for the organization suggest a donation of $895 for all nine documents framed or $125 each.

The Georgia General Assembly approved legislation June 1 authorizing local governments to erect historical displays that include a copy of the Ten Commandments. The documents must measure at least 11 inches by 14 inches and be exhibited in identical frames. Governments are not permitted to use state funds to purchase or maintain the displays.

Amy Henderson of the Georgia Municipal Association said she knows of no cities or counties that have erected displays.

The Jackson County Courthouse holds a display of the Ten Commandments but remains the only county surrounding Barrow that has such a display. Barrow County officials have not considered reinstating the Ten Commandments.

"There is no display at this time and, no, we have not discussed it," said Doug Garrison, county commission chairman.

In September 2003, an anonymous resident complained to the ACLU about the Ten Commandments display in the breezeway of the Barrow County Courthouse. The ACLU sued Barrow County, and the case was settled in July 2005. County officials agreed to remove the display and pay the anonymous resident $150,000 in legal fees and damages.

Hartwell-based Ten Commandments-Georgia raised a reported $260,000 to fund the county''s fight. The total cost of the suit topped $423,000. Ten Commandments-Georgia Inc. got part of its money back by auctioning off the Commandments display on eBay. Akins Ford owner Brad Akins paid $7,600 for the autographed display.

Ten Commandments-Georgia began as a means to raise funds for the lawsuit.

"In the midst of raising those funds, there developed a broader mission that included petition drives to show support for the Ten Commandments," said the Rev. Michael Griffin, executive director. "Our goals are to get a copy of the Ten Commandments in every home and encourage people to be active in moral issues. We are about anything that educates our society about the heritage of our country and our Judeo-Christian heritage."

For more information, go to www.thoushalt.org. The bill passed in 2006 can be found at www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2005_06/fulltext/hb941.htm.