Today the United States House of Representatives passed a measure which would allow states to pass laws permitting public schools to place the Ten Commandments in classrooms across this country. The ACLU of Southern California is shocked by this clear and arrogant violation of our constitution.

"Instead of focusing attention on the real issues facing our children today - violence, poverty, inadequate educational opportunities - Congress has chosen to play the religion card," said Ramona Ripston, ACLU-SC Executive Director. "Far from protecting our children from violence and intolerance, this amendment would serve only to divide communities along religious lines."

The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting, the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

"The framers designed the First Amendment to guarantee religious freedom, understanding, as do most church officials today, that once government becomes involved with religion and acquires the power to promote religious beliefs, it also acquires the power to suppress,. said Ripston." The ACLU supports the separation of church and state for the very same reason the founders of our country did: to promote and protect religious freedom by keeping the government out.