Controversy as US state mandates ten commandments in schools

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Louisiana has become the first US state to require that all public school classrooms, from elementary to university level, display a poster of the Ten Commandments.

The law, supported by Republicans and signed by Governor Jeff Landry on Wednesday, claims the commandments are “the foundational documents of our state and national government.”

This new mandate is expected to face legal challenges from civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who argue it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

According to the law, the poster must feature the Ten Commandments in a “large, easily readable font” on an 11-inch by 14-inch (28cm by 35.5cm) poster, with the commandments as the “central focus” of the display. Additionally, a four-paragraph “context statement” will accompany the poster, explaining how the commandments “were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries.”

By 2025, these posters must be displayed in all state-funded classrooms, though the law does not allocate state funds for the posters themselves.

Other Republican-led states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah, have recently proposed similar legislation.

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Governor Landry expressed his support for the measure on his X account, stating, “Today, we fulfilled our promise to bring drastic reform to our education system and bring common sense back to our classrooms. A strong education system leads to a strong economy and a strong state.”

However, the measure has sparked significant debate on social media. One user, MicheleMaybe, wrote, “What about a Muslim child in that classroom? Or a Buddhist? Or Atheist? This is completely illegal and an affront to our US Constitution.” Another user, Marjorie, commented, “You should keep your lifestyle choice of being a Christian to yourself. The Bible has no place in the classroom.”

Critics argue that this move could undermine the separation of church and state and potentially harm the inclusivity of public education.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Kentucky that required the Ten Commandments to be displayed in schools. The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the requirement “had no secular legislative purpose” and was “plainly religious in nature.”

The Ten Commandments, which originate from the Bible’s books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, are considered ethical guidelines foundational to Jewish, Christian, and possibly Islamic traditions. They continue to serve as a moral and ethical foundation for many cultures around the world.

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