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


Louisiana has become the first state to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom under legislation signed Wednesday by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry.

GOP-Draft Law A poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in “large, easily readable font” is required in all public classrooms, from kindergarten to state-funded universities. Although the bill has not received final approval from Landry, the time for gubernatorial action — to sign or veto the bill — has expired.

Opponents question the law’s constitutionality and warn that lawsuits are likely to follow. Supporters say the move is not just religious, but has historical significance. In the language of the law, the Ten Commandments are described as “fundamental documents of our state and national government.”

American Civil Liberties Union said On Wednesday, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Freedom from Religion joined in filing a lawsuit challenging the new Louisiana law.

“The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the groups said in a joint statement. “The First Amendment guarantees that we are all free to decide for ourselves what religious beliefs, if any, to hold and practice without government pressure. Politicians cannot impose their preferred religious doctrine on students and families attending public schools.”

In April, State Senator Royce Duplessis said CBS affiliate WWL-TV That he opposed the law.

“That’s why we separate church and state,” said Duplessis, a Democrat. “We learned the 10 Commandments when we went to Sunday school. As I said on the Senate floor, if your kids want 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 a staple of American public education for nearly three centuries,” are to be in classrooms by early 2025.

Posters are paid for by donations. Based on language in the statute, state funds will not be used to implement the mandate.

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

State House Representative Todd Horton authored the bill. In April, he defended it before the House, saying the Ten Commandments are the basis for all laws in Louisiana, WWL-TV reported.

“I hope and pray that Louisiana will be the first state to allow moral codes to be put back into classrooms,” Horton said. “Since I was in kindergarten [at a private school], it was always on the wall. I learned that God exists and know how to respect Him and His laws.

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

Legal battles over displaying the Ten 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 states that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The High Court found that the Act did not have a secular purpose but served a religious purpose.

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

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

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