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Louisiana Becomes First State To Require The Ten Commandments To Be Present In Public Classrooms 

All content will be required to be in place by the start of 2025 and will be paid for via donations - as state funds will not be used towards the mandate.

Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill into law that the Ten Commandments must be displayed in every public school classroom in Louisiana – making it the first state to do so. 

The GOP-curated legislation was signed on June 19 – celebrated as federal holiday Juneteenth – and requires a poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in “large, easily readable font” to be placed in all public classrooms ranging from kindergarten to state-funded universities. Landry credited the move as having “respect for the rule of law.”

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses, who got the commandments from God,” he said.

Along with the posters, students, teachers, and staff will be subjected to seeing them paired with a four-paragraph “context statement” describing how the Ten Commandments “were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries.” 

All content will be required to be in place by the start of 2025 and will be paid for via donations — as state funds will not be used towards the mandate. 

Religious freedom and civil rights advocacy groups are pushing back on the move. According to Fox 8 Live, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation released a joint statement on plans to file a joint lawsuit challenging the new law. “We are preparing a lawsuit to challenge HB 71. The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the statement read. 

“The First Amendment promises that we all get to decide for ourselves what religious beliefs, if any, to hold and practice, without pressure from the government. Politicians have no business imposing their preferred religious doctrine on students and families in public schools.”

The groups continued to highlight their thoughts on how “the government should not be taking sides in this theological debate.”

“Even among those who may believe in some version of the Ten Commandments, the particular text that they adhere to can differ by religious denomination or tradition,” the joint statement read.

However, supporters of the legislation claim the move isn’t based on religious purposes, but on the Ten Commandments’ historical significance. The law verbiage describes the Ten Commandments as “foundational documents of our state and national government.” Within the law, schools are authorized — but not required — to display the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Northwest Ordinance. 

This won’t be the first state facing battles of religious elements being present in the classroom. In 1980, Kentucky lost a battle with the U.S. Supreme Court after ruling a similar law was unconstitutional and violated the U.S. Constitution clause, which says Congress can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The high court found that the law served no secular purpose and served strictly a religious purpose.

As the mandate is added to a growing list of laws issued under conservative leadership, laws mirroring the legislation have been proposed in other states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah.

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