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AU Opposes South Carolina Commandments Crusade

Religious Right activist Henry Jordan is still determined to win South Carolina School Board support for the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

After repeated failures to get the state board to act favorably on his proposal, Jordan has introduced a new twist on his idea. He now wants the board to ask for a legal opinion from state Attorney General Charlie Condon on the constitutionality of his Commandments effort.

Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn urged board member to reject Jordan's latest plan.

"There is no reason for the Board of Education to spend more time and energy asking the attorney general to review a proposal that is obviously in violation of the federal and South Carolina constitutions and Supreme Court rulings on the subject," Lynn said in a letter to Board Chairman J. Alex Stanton. "Inevitably, Board approval of the Jordan proposal would be seen as an endorsement of his ongoing campaign."

Jordan's new effort has failed so far. At the board's May meeting, he failed to get his proposal out of committee. When Jordan tried to waive board rules so he could ask members to discuss his latest idea, he fell four votes short of the 11 needed.

Jordan insisted he wasn't disappointed. He'll just try again next month.

Oregon Tests Survive Religious Right Challenge

A federal appeals court has unanimously upheld an Oregon law that requires schools to test students annually and promote only those who pass.

Ruling 3-0, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century imposes only a rigorous academic program and does not force students to agree with specific beliefs. The law, passed by the Oregon legislature in 1991 and amended in 1995, sets academic standards for the state's public schools and requires students to pass the test before advancing to the next grade.

The American Family Association, the Rev. Donald Wildmon's Mississippi-based Religious Right group, challenged the statute, charging that it compels students "to adopt and affirm state-approved attitudes, beliefs and opinions. …