HELENA, Mont. – Montana's governor defended the placement of Ten Commandments (search) monuments on government property, saying those troubled by such displays "have something going inside of them that would need a little help anyway."
Gov. Judy Martz's (search) comments Friday came in response to a question about a Commandments display in front of a courthouse in Kalispell. Opponents have said it violates the line between church and state, and have threatened legal action if the display is not removed.
Martz, a Republican, said such displays should be considered speech that's protected by the First Amendment.
"People who are offended by the Ten Commandments have a deeper problem than the stone that it's written on, I think," Martz said at a news conference. "Anybody that has trouble with the Ten Commandments, I think they have something going inside of them that would need a little help anyway."
In neighboring Idaho, the state Senate's leadership committee on Friday killed legislation authorizing a documents display in the state Capitol that would include the Ten Commandments.
"I want to err on the broad side of maintaining that separation" of church and state, said Assistant Republican Floor Leader Joe Stegner (search). "This comes too close."
The monument would have included the Ten Commandments with six other documents, including the Magna Carta (search) and the preamble to the state constitution. Judges have found similar displays to be constitutional.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (search) was ousted last year after refusing to remove his Commandments monument from the Judicial Building in Montgomery. A federal judge had found the monument to be an unconstitutional governmental promotion of religion.