Louisiana becomes first state to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public classrooms

Louisiana became the first state to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all public school classrooms, under a bill signed by the Republican government. Jeff Landry on Wednesday.

Legislation authored by the Republican Party mandates that a display of the Ten Commandments in poster format, in “large, easily readable print,” be required in all public classrooms, from kindergarten to publicly funded universities. Although the bill has not received final approval from Landry, the time for the governor’s action – signing or vetoing the bill – has expired.

Opponents question the constitutionality of the law, warning that legal action could follow. Supporters say the purpose of the measure is not solely religious, but that it has historical significance. In the language of the law, the Ten Commandments are described as “founding documents of our state and national government.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday it is joining Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom from Religion Foundation in filing a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s new law .

“The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The First Amendment promises that we will all decide for ourselves what, if any, religious beliefs we should adopt and practice, without government pressure. Politicians do not have to impose their preferred religious doctrine on students and families in public schools. »

In April, State Sen. Royce Duplessis told CBS affiliate WWL-TV that he opposed the legislation.

“That’s why we have a separation of church and state,” said Duplessis, who is a Democrat. “We learned the Ten Commandments when we went to Sunday school. As I said on the Senate floor, if you want your children to learn the Ten Commandments, you can take them to church.”

The displays, which will be paired with a “four-paragraph contextual statement describing” how the Ten Commandments “have been an important part of American public education for nearly three centuries,” are to be installed in classrooms by early 2025.

The posters would be financed through donations. Public funds will not be used to implement the mandate, based on the wording of the legislation.

The law also “permits” – but does not require – the display of the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Northwest Ordinance in K-12 public schools.

State House Representative Dodie Horton authored the bill. In April, she defended it in the House, saying the Ten Commandments provide the basis for all laws in Louisiana, WWL-TV reported.

“I hope and pray that Louisiana will be the first state to allow the moral code to return to classrooms,” Horton said. “Since I was in kindergarten [at a private school], it was still on the wall. I learned that God existed and I knew to honor Him and His laws.

Similar bills requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in classrooms have been proposed in other states, including Texas, Oklahoma and Utah. However, facing threats of legal battles over the constitutionality of such measures, no state other than Louisiana has succeeded in passing these bills.

Legal battles over displaying the Ten Commandments in classrooms are not new.

In 1980, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a similar Kentucky law was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that Congress may “make no law respecting the establishment of a religion “. The High Court found that the law had no secular objective but rather served a clearly religious objective.

The controversial law in Louisiana, in a Bible Belt state, comes amid a new era of conservative leadership in the state under Landry, who replaced the two-term Democratic governor. John Bel Edwards in January.

The GOP also has a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature, and Republicans hold every statewide elected office, paving the way for politicians to pass a conservative agenda during the legislative session that ended earlier this month.

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