Commandments Spread Far and Wide

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Monuments with some very familiar and lately controversial inscriptions are becoming a permanent fixture throughout the state of Mississippi and beyond.

They are being placed in front of businesses and churches.

"We are trying to proclaim the Gospel and to claim that we are Christians and we are about doing the right thing," said Mike Bunkley of Meridian, a representative for Jesus Saves Ministries, based in Florence, Miss.

Omer Rivers, the director, was out of town Wednesday and unable to be reached by Newscenter 11.

Bunkley said the monuments grew from events in Alabama involving for Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. He was ousted from office for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument he placed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

"We felt that there was a need and we are going to continue to push it," said Bunkley.

Several businesses are in support of the effort. One recently went up in front of Luigi's restaurant on Highway 19 North and one in front of the Bible Bookstore on 23rd Avenue.

"I have had a great response," said owner Cathy Carpenter.

The concrete monuments have become so popular that five Meridian businesses have already had them erected. One hundred fifty have been placed in other areas around the state. The group said it hopes to have 1 million distributed in the near future.

Meanwhile, fights over the religious document in courthouses are still going strong in Georgia. Two Georgia counties have installed Ten Commandments displays in their courthouses in the past week, ignoring lawsuits in other counties.

Says Henry County commissioner Gerry Adams, "I don't see anything wrong with saying you ought not be killin' or stealin'.''

Tuesday, Henry County commissioners voted 5 to 0 to put a framed Ten Commandments poster in the entrance of a new courthouse.

A similar display was installed in a courthouse last week in Cherokee County, in Atlanta's northern suburbs. That brings to at least five the number of Georgia counties that have placed Ten Commandments markers in their courthouses in recent years.

One of those counties, Habersham, obeyed a federal judge's order and took down its two displays last November. The rest are still up, although some currently face legal challenges.

The state chairman for the League of the South, a heritage group that paid for Henry County's poster, Ray McBerry, said dozens more county governments in Georgia are considering Ten Commandments displays.

McBerry called the Ten Commandment trend a direct reaction to last summer's battle by Roy Moore to show the holy rules in courthouses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.