house-bill-71-mandates-display-of-ten-commandments-in-schools

In a move that has stirred significant controversy, Louisiana public schools and colleges must prominently display the “Ten Commandments” starting next year. This mandate comes after a contentious bill was signed into law on Wednesday. House Bill 71 mandates that all public classrooms, from kindergarten through college, must have a poster of the Ten Commandments displayed by the beginning of 2025.

Civil rights groups have already raised the alarm, arguing that the law infringes on the separation of church and state. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has vowed to challenge the legislation in court.

House Bill 71 

Republican Governor Jeff Landry, who signed the bill along with a suite of other measures aimed at “expanding faith in public schools”, defended the decision. “If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original law-giver, which was Moses,” Landry stated during a news conference.

Proponents of the bill argue that the Ten Commandments hold historical significance beyond their religious origins. The law’s text describes them as “foundational documents of our state and national government”.

It cites James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, who purportedly said, “We have staked the whole future of our new nation…upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”

The displays, which will be funded through private donations rather than state dollars, are to be presented as posters or framed documents with large, easily readable text. Each display will also include a contextual statement outlining how the Ten Commandments were historically a significant part of American public education.

Objections

Despite these justifications, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana asserts that the law is a clear violation of constitutional principles. The organization cites the 1980 Supreme Court decision in Stone v. Graham, which struck down a similar law in Kentucky for violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The ACLU warns that the mandated displays will lead to unconstitutional religious coercion of students, who are required by law to attend school and thus are a captive audience for these religious messages.

“The displays mandated by H.B. 71 will result in unconstitutional religious coercion of students,” the Louisiana ACLU said in a statement. “They will also send a chilling message to students and families who do not follow the state’s preferred version of the Ten Commandments that they do not belong and are not welcome in our public schools.”

Source: Louisiana Public Schools to display Ten Commandments in classrooms after controversial law passes

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