Put Ten Commandments In Public School Classes

Empty Class Room

Source: Jeffry Myers / Getty

Louisiana has been on one lately.

Within the last month alone, Louisiana Republicans have successfully dismantled a majority-Black voting district for no other reason than to dilute the power of Black voters, and the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned the rulings of lower courts that rejected a bid for a majority-white town to succeed from the majority-Black state capital, Baton Rouge.

If all that wasn’t enough to make it clear that the Louisiana GOP wants to make America 1950 again, schools in Louisiana could soon be required by law to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom.

Bruhwhat is going on in Louisiana?

From CNN:

The state House of Representatives gave final passage to House Bill 71 on Tuesday in a 79-16 vote, sending it to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk. Only Democrats voted against the legislation.

If the governor signs it into law, every Louisiana classroom — from kindergarten through university level — at schools that receive state funding would be required to display “on a poster or framed document that is at least eleven inches by fourteen inches. The text of the Ten Commandments shall be the central focus of the poster or framed document and shall be printed in a large, easily readable font,” according to the text of the bill.

HB 71 also specifies the exact language that must be printed on the classroom displays.

Republican state Rep. Dodie Horton has said the Ten Commandments are rooted in legal history and her bill would place a “moral code” in the classroom. She dismissed concerns from Democrats and other opponents that a state requiring a religious text in all classrooms would violate the establishment clause of the US Constitution, which says Congress can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Let’s just set aside for now the debate on whether House Republicans are violating the Constitution by forcing every public school classroom in the state from kindergarten through college to display the Ten Commandments. The real question is: Legal or not, how is this not a blatant, right-in-your-face, completely unapologetic example of the very “indoctrination” conservatives are claiming is going on in “woke” classrooms across America every time a lesson on gender studies or non-whitewashed Black history is taught?

The scariest part of this isn’t the suggestion that, for “moral” reasons that are really ideological reasons, religious text should be displayed in all classroomsit’s the requirement of it that makes it feel like Republicans are also trying to make America 1940s Germany again. Think about it: by penalty of law, every single state-funded classroom from before elementary school through college, where most students are legal adults, must display the holiest of holy doctrines of the Christian faith, separation of church and state be damned.

The optics alone are bad, but then there’s the annoying part of it where Republicans are playing around in everyone’s faces and pretending they’re not doing exactly what they’re doing. Get TF outta here with this nonsense about the Ten Commandments being “rooted in legal history,” and about the display being about “moral cose” and not explicit religious indoctrination. In fact, let’s just take a quick look at this so-called “code.”

First, it’s not really clear what the practical value is of displaying for students biblical instructions not to kill and steal, as it is common knowledge that these are crimes. I suppose it does somewhat justify the “legal history” aspect, but they might as well require classrooms to display the adage, “Play with fire, you will get burned” since we’re creating entire legally-binding bills just to state the obvious.

But beyond that, what’s the “moral” value of instructing students to “have no other Gods before” the chosen Christian God, to “not make unto thee any graven images,” to “not take the name of Lord thy God in vain,” and to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy?” What does any of that have to do with the “moral code” of someone who is not a worshiper of the Christian faith?

The Louisiana GOP could have found sound moral advice from the texts of a myriad of religious and/or spiritual groups, but they chose the doctrine of their preferred religion—America’s most dominant religion—and a list of rules, nearly half of which can’t really be applied to non-Cristians. That’s not about morals, it’s about forced proselytizing in public schools.

More from CNN:

In defending the bill, supporters leaned on the 2022 US Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which gave a high school football coach his job back after he was disciplined over a controversy involving prayer on the field. The Supreme Court ruled that the coach’s prayers amounted to private speech, protected by the First Amendment, and could not be restricted by the school district. The decision lowered the bar between church and state in an opinion that legal experts predicted would allow more religious expression in public spaces. At the time, the court clarified that a government entity does not necessarily violate the establishment clause by permitting religious expression in public.

So, basically, Republicans argued that a ruling that called the public promotion of Christianity “private speech” justified the forced promotion of Christianity through public speech. The high school coach in the case they cited made a personal decision to engage in prayer with his student-athletes, who, presumably, consented to participate (we hope). House Republicans are seeking to force schools under threat of law to participate in religious displays. The two are not the same.

“This bill is unconstitutional,” the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a joint statement. “The state may not require public schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Many faith-based and civil-rights organizations oppose this measure because it violates students’ and families’ fundamental right to religious freedom. We are closely monitoring this situation and urge Louisianans to let the governor know that he should veto this bill. Politicians should not be forcing religious scripture on students. Our public schools are not Sunday schools, and students of all faiths—or no faith—should feel welcome in them.”



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