Louisiana Requires Ten Commandments In Public School Classrooms

In a landmark move, Louisiana has passed legislation requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom by January 1, 2025. This makes Louisiana the first state to enact such a law since the Supreme Court’s 1980 decision to ban the Ten Commandments from classrooms.

The new law mandates that a poster-sized copy of the Ten Commandments be displayed in all public school classrooms, including state-funded universities. However, no state funds will be used for these displays. Schools are allowed to accept donated funds or displays to fulfill the requirement. Dean Young, a long-time Christian activist, has pledged to organize and fund the initiative, ensuring every classroom in Louisiana receives a display.

The legislation refers to Supreme Court rulings that recognize the Ten Commandments as historically significant and foundational to the U.S. legal system. It also permits the optional display of other historical documents, such as the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, alongside a context statement highlighting their historical relevance.

Although Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry did not formally approve the bill, it automatically became law after the deadline for his veto or signature passed. Landry, a supporter of the legislation, expressed eagerness to face legal challenges, asserting, “I can’t wait to be sued.”

Opponents of the bill argue that it violates the separation of church and state. Azhar Majeed from the Center for Inquiry criticized the legislation, claiming it imposes Christianity on students regardless of their religious beliefs. “It is meant to impose Christianity on all students in Louisiana’s public schools, even if they belong to a minority religion or no religion at all,” Majeed wrote in a letter to Landry.

This development follows a Supreme Court ruling favoring a former high school coach fired for praying on the field, which overturned the “Lemon test” used to measure government coercion of religion. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion emphasized interpreting the Establishment Clause through historical practices and understandings, potentially supporting the new Louisiana law.

State Rep. Dodie Horton, who sponsored the legislation, clarified that the bill is not meant to indoctrinate but to provide moral guidelines. “It doesn’t preach a certain religion, but it does teach a standard,” Horton said, emphasizing the Ten Commandments’ role in promoting societal morality.

Nicole Hunt of Focus on the Family, writing in Newsweek, suggested that the removal of the Lemon test allows for the Ten Commandments’ historical and cultural significance to be acknowledged in public schools.

Strong state leadership was highlighted as a crucial element in the bill’s passage. Dean Young noted that having a governor and legislature willing to support such measures was vital. “They realize we have to get back to what this nation was founded on, and this nation was founded on a belief in God,” Young asserted, stressing the importance of a moral foundation for societal stability.