In North Dakota, legislators approve Ten Commandments and prayer in classrooms

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2001

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- The state senate has voted to endorse a bill that allows schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms as part of an exhibit of historical documents.

Meanwhile, House members have approved legislation that permits school boards to allow voluntary classroom prayers to led by a teacher or student.

Both measures will go to opposite chambers for review.

''Why are some so fearful that our children may be exposed to God, or religion, or morals, or values in our school?'' asked Rep. Mark Dosch, a Republican from Bismarck. ''It's as if some horrible thing will happen to our children if they're exposed to something good.''

Dosch sponsored the school prayer legislation.

Fellow GOP Rep. Tom Brusegaard, while describing himself as a Christian, said school prayers will result in costly lawsuits filed. He noted that North Dakota already allows moments of silence in classrooms for personal worship and reflection.

Sen. Linda Christenson, a Democrat from Grand Forks, also teaches there. She said allowing the Ten Commandments to be featured in class may make some students feel excluded.

''Please, think about a child in a classroom where that is not his or her basis of their faith and religion and morality,'' she said. ''Are you going to do that to a child? Is your faith so weak that it has to be exercised in this way?''

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