HomeTop StoriesTen Commandments in the Classroom Advances in Louisiana; Legal challenge likely

Ten Commandments in the Classroom Advances in Louisiana; Legal challenge likely

This article was originally published in Louisiana Illuminator.

A bill to require the display of the Ten Commandments in all Louisiana elementary schools, colleges and universities advanced in the Legislature on Wednesday, but it is now more likely to face a legal challenge after being amended to include private institutions to record.

If approved, Louisiana would be the first state to mandate that the Ten Commandments be posted in classrooms.

Rep. Dodie HortonR-Haughton, has promoted her bill as a way to provide moral guidance to students through a historic document that she credits as the source of all law in the US. Schools should not have to spend their money on posters of the Ten Commandments, but they should be displayed when they are donated.

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The House sent the bill to the Senate by a vote of 83 to 18.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana opposes the legislation.

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Opponents of the legislation consider it a state-sanctioned religion, which the First Amendment prohibits. Horton was asked if she saw a problem with people who adhere to religious beliefs other than Christianity or Judaism and who do not recognize the Ten Commandments as a moral compass.

“I am not concerned about Muslims. I’m not worried about atheists,” Horton said. “I’m concerned that our own children see what God’s law is.”

Debate on Horton’s bill lasted more than three hours in the House of Representatives, with three failed attempts to amend it.

Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, tried to have the Golden Rule added to the Ten Commandments. It comes from the New Testament (Matthew 7:12) “…in everything you would have them do to you…do to others.”

When asked, Horton said she did not know the origins of the Golden Rule. She objected to Landry’s amendment, which was rejected by the House of Representatives.

Rep. Joy Walters, D-Shreveport, wanted a slogan reading “African American, AD 1750” added to the display of the Ten Commandments because they weren’t considered applicable to black people until the mid-18th century, said she. Her attempt also failed.

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Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans, proposed that the 42 laws of Ma’at also be displayed in classrooms. Some religious historians suggest that the Ten Commandments were plagiarized from principles associated with Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth, justice and order, which were written some 2,000 years before Moses received the commandments.

Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, was unsuccessful when he tried to remove the classroom display mandate from Horton’s bill, but he did get House members to amend it to require that every school that receives state money follows the proposed law.

The addition was problematic for Rep. Mike Bayham, R-Chalmette, who voted in favor of Horton’s bill and told colleagues it would increase the likelihood that a non-religious private school would sue to block the law’s implementation.

Representatives supporting the proposal tried to cross the line between imposing their religious beliefs in the public school environment and what they see as the need to provide students with guidance.

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“I think the moral decline of our children is something we should be concerned about,” said Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs.

Rep. Chad Brown, D-Plaquemine, cited Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s January inauguration speech to explain the need to remove all barriers to education from the classroom.

“We need to ‘let the teachers teach,’” Brown said, quoting the governor. “I don’t believe this (the Ten Commandments) is in the curriculum.”

Update: This report has been updated to reflect Rep. Delisha Boyd’s vote change from no to yes.

Louisiana reliever is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. If you have any questions, please contact editor Greg LaRose: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Tweet.

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