On a day when President Clinton faced renewed questions about his relationship with a former White House intern, the National Clergy Council rallied outside the Capitol to display the Ten Commandments in federal government buildings, including the White House.
The conservative group of ministers who lead the council believes the Commandments' code of ethics is accepted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the three monotheistic religions they say reflect the heritage of America.The Ten Commandments Project, an initiative of the council, already has placed more than 125 stone tablets in states such as California, New York, Louisiana, Ohio and Alabama.
But opponents say the group's agenda is unconstitutional and thinly veiled bigotry.
After the council's Thursday press conference, several members went to the White House to offer a copy of the Ten Commandments. They were turned down.
"The allegations against the president have demonstrated the necessity of public leaders adhering to an internal moral and ethical standard," said Council Chair-man Rev. Paul Chaim Schenck.
The Senate recently passed a non-binding resolution affirming the right to display the Ten Commandments in government offices and courthouses nationwide. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., tacked the amendment onto the budget res-o-lution and it passed on a voice vote.
But Americans United worked with Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to add a qualifying phrase that the display must be consistent with the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The resolution was introduced in support of Etowah County Circuit Judge Roy Moore, whose refusal to remove a copy of the Ten Commandments from his Alabama courtroom prompted an extensive legal battle. The state Supreme Court dismissed the case in January on technical grounds.