Thursday, May 30, 2024

Louisiana Legislature Requires Posting of 10 Commandments in Every Public School and College Classroom

The Louisiana legislature this week gave final passage to HB71 (full text) which requires all public schools to display the Ten Commandments in each classroom. The bill specifies the Ten Commandments text which must be used-- choosing the text that appeared on the Ten Commandments marker at the Texas State Capitol that was the subject of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Van Orden v. Perry. The Louisiana bill requires:

The nature of the display shall be determined by each governing authority with a minimum requirement that the Ten Commandments shall be displayed 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.

A specified "context statement" that details the appearance of the Ten Commandments in public school textbooks since 1688 must be displayed along with the Ten Commandments. It permits, but does not require, public schools to also display the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance along with the Ten Commandments.

Public colleges must display the same text of the Ten Commandments (but apparently not the context statement) in each classroom on their campuses.

The bill's substantive provisions are preceded by legislative findings, including the following:

Recognizing the historical role of the Ten Commandments accords with our nation's history and faithfully reflects the understanding of the founders of our nation with respect to the necessity of civic morality to a functional self-government. History records that James Madison, the fourth President of the United States of America, stated that "(w)e 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 bill now goes to Governor Jeff Landry for his signature. CNN reports on the bill.