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esus repliec “Tiove the ors: your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind: This is the first and great est CO mmand mem. And the second is like it: ove your neighbor as course Matthew 22:37 LEFT FIELD Hang Ten Washington, D.C. I ” f you’re driving down the road wearing a seat belt and you get in a crash, that seat belt might not save your life, but it is a factor.” Somewhere in that analogy was Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon’s explanation of how posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms might have prevented the Columbine High School shootings. Salmon’s stab at logic was good enough for most of the audience at the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C., press briefing. The event was billed as the kick-off of a campaign to build support for a bill that would allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public buildings. The bill passed the House early in the summer, so the event filled with reporters from sympathetic media outlets was less an opening kick-off than the beginning of the second half. Like any good halftime show, there were people in bad costumes and lots of awards to give out. The costume of the hour was the ubiquitous Republican the awards were handsomely framed copies of the Ten Commandmenth, presented to Representatives who pledged to hang them in their offices. There were a few fashion wild cards, including a female member of Congress \(in a gasp! and Representative Salmon’s Texas-sized turquoise bolo tie. The tone, however, was a constant: just the right combination of glib and obtuse that marks a conservative Christian gathering on the Hill. Asked about a recent poll that had 76 percent of Americans in favor of posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms, one congressman opined, “If you covered them with horse manure, the other 24 percent would want to put them up too, if you know The Family Research Council’s Janet Parshall had an equally cryptic revelation for one of the few skeptics in the audience. “You [opponents] have to prove your case. We don’t have to prove ours. Ours is ancient.” \(So is pre-Copernican astronomy, but that doesn’t mean the Sun revolves around the of the Ten Commandments the F.R.C. would prefer to see posted, there was confusion among the faithful. “Really, there’s only one version, and that’s the Hebrew version,” was the first answer, followed by, “Any version is just fine, thank you.” In response to a follow-up question about which version the F.R.C. was presenting to members of Congress and whether different versions would be provided to members of different faiths, an F.R.C. spokesperson said, “You are welcome to come up here and look for yourself to see if you know which version this is.” For the record, Left Field has determined that it was the New International Version translation of the text in Exodus \(as opposed to the ver framed copies; members of the press got Ten Commandments book covers, which the F.R.C. is distributing nationwide \(500,000 so far, according to trend in conservative Christian evangelism, event organizers tried to be ecumenical. Parshall explained, “Not only do Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in the Ten Commandments, but every world faith has tacitly acknowledged their power and truth.” F.R.C.’s book cover project gave away the game, though. In addition to the stately Ten Commandments covers \(which are all in capitals except for selected words, including “adultery, out book covers bearing Matthew 22:37-39, featuring an immense silver J at the beginning of Jesus’ name. The back of the cover includes a brief explanation of Anno Domini. The press conference was a genteel \(and genquietly escort a representative of People for the American Way to the door, for circulating a press release describing a plan to send copies of the Bill of Rights to representatives who supported the F.R.C.’s Ten Commandments bill. + THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5 NOVEMBER 12, 1999