Saturday, July 13, 2024

Louisiana to Display 10 Commandments in Public Classrooms

'The law prevents students from getting an equal education and will keep children who have different beliefs from feeling safe at school...'

(Headline USA) Louisiana has become the first state to require that the 10 Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom under a bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry on Wednesday.

The legislation mandates that a poster-size display of the 10 Commandments in “large, easily readable font” be required in all public classrooms, from kindergarten to state-funded universities.

Although the bill did not receive final approval from Landry, the time for gubernatorial action—to sign or veto the bill—has lapsed.

Opponents question the law’s constitutionality, warning that lawsuits are likely to follow. Supporters, however, say the purpose of the measure is not solely religious, and that it has historical significance.

In the law’s language, the 10 Commandments are described as “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

The displays will be paired with a four-paragraph explanation of how the 10 Commandments were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries, and must be in place in classrooms by the start of 2025.

The legislation stipulates that the posters will be paid for through donations and state funds will not be used to implement the mandate.

The law also authorizes—but does not require—the display of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance in public schools.

Not long after the governor signed the bill into law, leftist organizations reacted by threatening to file lawsuits to prevent the implementation of the law.

“The law prevents students from getting an equal education and will keep children who have different beliefs from feeling safe at school,” the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a joint statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Even among those who may believe in some version of the 10 Commandments, the particular text that they adhere to can differ by religious denomination or tradition,” the groups added. “The government should not be taking sides in this theological debate.”

Similar bills requiring the 10 Commandments be displayed in classrooms have been proposed in other states including Texas, Oklahoma and Utah. However, with threats of legal battles over the constitutionality of such measures, no state besides Louisiana has had success in making the bills law.

Legal battles over the display of the 10 Commandments in classrooms are not new.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar Kentucky law was unconstitutional and violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says Congress can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

The high court found that the law had no secular purpose but rather served a plainly religious purpose.

Louisiana’s law, in a state ensconced in the Bible Belt, comes during a new era of conservative leadership in the state under Landry, who replaced two-term Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in January.

The GOP also has a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature, and Republicans hold every statewide elected position, allowing lawmakers to easily push through effective and meaningful conservative policies during the legislative session that concluded earlier this month.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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