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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK

World: Americas

Ten Commandments for US schools

The gun control debate on Capitol Hill will probably go on late into the night

The House of Representatives, working on a bill to deter juvenile crime, voted on Thursday to permit the display of the 10 Commandments in schools

The House approved by 248 to180 votes Alabama Rebublican Robert Aderholt's amendment to allow states to decide whether to permit such displays on government property. It needs Senate approval before it can become law.

The BBC's Rob Watson: "A victory for conservatives"
The vote was seen by political analysts as a victory for social conservatives, who are reluctant to pass new gun laws in the wake of the spate of school shootings, and instead blame youth violence on the collapse of traditional values and discipline.

"The recent shootings in Littleton, Colorado, provide an unfortunate picture of the terror infested in our schools today, children killing children in the halls of our schools, children who do not understand the basic principles of humankind," said Mr Aderholt.

The amendment, he said, was a first step toward reinstilling the value of human life in children influenced by violent culture.

"I understand that simply posting the 10 Commandments will not instantly change the moral character of our nation," he said.

"However, it is an important step to promote morality, and an end of children killing children. "

The vote was criticised by those who say that the amendment violates the separation of church and state.

"I think this is just one more sad example of religion being used as a political football by a Congress which apparently cannot find any real solution to the problem under debate," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The Supreme Court in 1980 struck down as unconstitutional a Kentucky law requiring the posting of a copy of the 10 Commandments in each public school classroom.

The court said such postings violated the required separation of religion and government.

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