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Celebrated Ten Commandments Monument Briefly Visits Maryland


An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the courthouse where the Ten Commandments monument was originally displayed. Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore was removed from office after refusing to move the monument from the state courthouse in Montgomery.

By Kevin W. McCullough
Capital News Service
Friday, Feb. 25, 2005; March 1
, 2005

WASHINGTON - Marcia Eldreth does not mean for the U.S. Christian flag she designed to replace Old Glory -- but she doesn't see why it shouldn't fly everywhere.

Neither does she understand why some people are intent on keeping displays of the Ten Commandments out of government spaces.

"In my opinion, there's no place it shouldn't be," said Eldreth, who is helping to bring a noted Ten Commandments monument to Rising Sun for a brief visit Monday.

The touring monument came to national prominence in 2003, when Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore was forced from office after he refused to remove the display from the state courthouse in Montgomery.

The 5,200-pound granite slab, inscribed with the Ten Commandments and a variety of other religious sentiments, has been barnstorming the country since July, when Jim Cabaniss took the monument "out of a dark room and brought it into the light of day and exposed it to all of America."

Cabaniss is president of American Veterans Standing for God and Country, the group that has taken the monument through 134 cities in 18 states since last year.

Eldreth, a member of the Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, was introduced to the veterans group on June 14 -- Flag Day -- when she was promoting her flag on Pat Robertson's "The 700 Club."

She said she was inspired to design the flag by a sermon by her pastor. The flag features an eagle clutching a cross over the globe. The white flag has 50 stars in a blue border, and is peppered with Scripture.

Eldreth gave the veterans group some of her flags, which now travel to each of the monument rallies around the country. She also asked if the veterans could bring the Ten Commandments display to her community, which she said some people have called "the Bible belt of Maryland."

The monument is coming from Roanoke, Va., and is expected to arrive at 3 p.m. in Rising Sun -- its 137th stop -- where it will be displayed at Hunter's Sale Barn until 8:30 p.m. Norm Hunter, owner of Hunter's Sale Barn, said his flea market was chosen because, "We're the only place in the county that draws a lot of people on a regular basis."

At 8:30 p.m., the Ten Commandments monument will head off for its next stop at Langley High School in McLean, Va., where the school is hosting a debate with legal experts and scholars on the issues surrounding the Supreme Court Ten Commandments case.

Eldreth said it "wasn't planned" to have the display in Rising Sun just two days before the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in cases that challenge the constitutionality of public displays of the Ten Commandments. That case is being watched in Cumberland and Frederick, which face similar cases.

She noted, however, that legal challenges to display of the commandments are "going on all over the place."

"It's spreading like an epidemic," Eldreth said of what she calls the mistaken notion that church and state should be separated.

"If we don't bless God, he will have no reason to bless America," she added.

Copyright 2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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