Patterico's Pontifications


Louisiana: Ten Commandments Posted in every Public School

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Louisiana goes there:

A bill signed into law this week makes Louisiana the only state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every classroom in public schools and colleges — and stirs the long-running debate over the role of religion in government institutions.

Under the new law, all public K-12 classrooms and state-funded universities will be required to display a poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in “large, easily readable font” next year.

As expected, civil liberty groups are pushing back on the new law, saying:

. . . it would unconstitutionally breach protections against government-imposed religion.


The organizations believe the law violates U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in the 1980 Stone v. Graham decision. In a 5-4 ruling, the Burger court ruled against a similar law passed in Kentucky requiring classrooms to post copies of the Ten Commandments, finding that it violated the First Amendment.

“The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” the groups wrote in a joint statement. “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.”

Proponents of the bill say that the history of the Ten Commandments are “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

The bill also allows schools to display other historical documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Northwest Ordinance.

“Although this is a religious document, this document is also posted in over one hundred and eighty places, including the Supreme Court of the United States of America. I would say is based on the laws that this country was founded on,” Republican state Sen. Adam Bass told KALB last month.

While other places/buildings in the U.S. post the Ten Commandments, the fact remains that students have to attend school, and are thus going to be a captive audience, so to speak. Do we trust that teachers won’t have kids reciting the commandments? That would be a further violation of civil liberties in a public school setting.

It’s also going to be problematic for the parents who are raising their children in a non-Christian faith. Won’t they see this as a gross violation of their liberties? I think they will.


“Altering constitutional law is not the only motivation here; a version of Christian mysticism is also in play. There is a real belief that the Ten Commandments have spiritual power over the hearts and minds of students.

“I grew up in Kentucky and went to classes before the Ten Commandments were ordered removed, and I can testify that the displays had no impact on our lives. My classmates and I were not better people because of the faded posters on the walls.”

(I believe posting the Ten Commandments in public school rooms violates the Constitution. But if it didn’t, and lawmakers were determined to go the religious route in public schools to please their constituents, why choose the Ten Commandments? Why not choose instead the beautiful Beatitudes?)


15 Responses to “Louisiana: Ten Commandments Posted in every Public School”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (280540)

  2. This all sounds very Old Testament to me. 😛

    norcal (6f0bd9)

  3. I’d much rather my kid see the Blessed ares rather than the Thou shall nots!

    Dana (280540)

  4. The roots of this go back to the founding of public schools and the desire of majority Protestants that their beliefs be taught. They went so far as to outlaw public funding of [other] religious-based schools to thwart the desire of Catholics and Jews to evade this indoctrination of their children.

    A federal amendment was proposed to outlaw such funding (the Blaine Amendment). It failed but many states had adopted such at the state level were using it to prevent ANY public funding of alternative schooling until recently (Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue)

    Once again, busy people are attempting to return public schools to Christian academies. This is going to fail quickly but they’ll be pack with some new troll.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  5. I am just old enough to remember singing Christian hymns about Jesus in grammar school. Some Jewish friends of mine also remember that too. Where it was just “whatever” to me, it was a terrible insult to them and theirs.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  6. Didn’t we go through this Roy Moore in Alabama before he got outed as a creeper?

    You can’t ban the 10 commandments from schools, in many contexts they’re very appropriate. But you can’t require them, especially not with specific wording. I mean, what if these are worded differently then my church teaches? If my kids are going to learn religious teaching it needs to align with my church.

    Time123 (bc6af5)

  7. Even if you argue that Judaeo-Christian belief encompasses these commandments, the wording and order differ among sects. Islam has similar commandments, although they differ substantially. But Hindus (and Native Americans and others) would have a real problem with the expressed monotheism. And of course there are the atheists.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  8. Yes, the 10 Commandments are religious in nature, and yes one of the reasons our country was founded was for religious freedom from the government, and although I hate to disagree with you all here, I think the point Louisiana is making is a good one:

    Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values and it’s important that students in public schools be taught our history. The 10 Commandments were part of the beliefs of (some) of our founding fathers. So while some interpret forcing schools to put up the 10 Commandments as infringing on students’ freedom of religion as enshrined in our founding and constitution, it’s important that they at least be aware of our history as a country as well as our roots. So all students in public schools should have to read the King James Bible, which is much more historically relevant in understanding our founding values. While we’re at it, perhaps we should have black students be enslaved (only while at school of course!), so that everyone could have a better sense of our roots. Maybe those students who don’t agree should be tried and burned as witches?

    In reality, those who are grousing about civil liberties are really just mad that America is and always has been a Christian nation, and not teaching our children facts about our history is woke nonsense pushed by America-haters.

    Nate (cfb326)

  9. We already have government imposed religion from Pride Flags to Gaia Worship

    It’s about time for some pushback.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  10. Republicans better remember what they say: No other gods that includes worshipping trump! Thou shall not STEAL! Thous shall not commit adultery. Thous shall not bare false witness (lie) Thous shalt not covet.

    asset (0f6ed7)

  11. Our nation was founded to get rid of unfair government of an overseas monarchy.

    The natives lived here, Europeans founded colonies for commercial and geographic gain, extensive conflict between the great powers caused excessive pain, in the form of taxes and tyrannical governors, local rebellion, retribution, retaliation, escalation, self government furor, rebels win.

    Oh, and different religous groups had come here too, hence the founding fathers had to address all of the different beliefs in the constitution.

    But the founding of the nation was specifically not do to religion, and made special effort to ensure that free worship across religions were enshrined in our founding philosophy. This whole Christian nation as a reason is a fable invented around 150 years after the founding.

    You would think that our founders, in the document declaring the 13 colonies independant would have included some specific wording in there. See end.

    What does it mean to say America is a Christian nation?
    It depends on whom you ask. Some believe God worked to bring European Christians to America in the 1600s and secure their independence in the 1700s. Some take the Puritan settlers at their word that they were forming a covenant with God, similar to the Bible’s description of ancient Israel, and see America as still subject to divine blessings or punishments depending on how faithful it is. Still others contend that some or all the American founders were Christian, or that the founding documents were based on Christianity.

    Several of the colonies had Christian language in their founding documents, such as Massachusetts, with established churches lasting decades after independence. Others, such as Rhode Island, offered broader religious freedom. It’s also arguable whether the colonies’ actions lived up to their words, given their histories of religious intolerance and their beginnings of centuries-long African slavery and wars on Native Americans.

    What about the founders?
    The leaders of the American Revolution and the new republic held a mix of beliefs — some Christian, some Unitarian, some deistic or otherwise theistic. Some key founders, like Benjamin Franklin, admired Jesus as a moral teacher but would fail a test of Christian orthodoxy. Many believed strongly in religious freedom, even as they also believed that religion was essential to maintain a virtuous citizenry.

    Were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution based on Christianity and the Ten Commandments?
    References to the Creator and Nature’s God in the Declaration reflect a general theism that could be acceptable to Christians, Unitarians, deists and others. Both documents reflect Enlightenment ideas of natural rights and accountable government. Some also see these documents as influenced, or at least compatible, with Protestant emphasis on such ideas as human sin, requiring checks and balances. In fact, believers in a Christian America were some of the strongest opponents of ratifying the Constitution because of its omission of God references.

    Were most early Americans Christian?
    Many were and many weren’t. Early church membership was actually quite low, but revivals known as the First and Second Great Awakenings, before and after the Revolution, won a lot of converts. Many scholars see religious freedom as enabling multiple churches to grow and thrive.

    Were Catholics considered Christian?
    Not by many early Americans. Some state constitutions barred them from office.

    How did that change?
    Gradually, but by the time of the Cold War, many saw Catholics, Protestants and Jews as God-believing American patriots, allied in the face-off with the atheistic, communist Soviet Union.

    In Congress, July 4, 1776

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    Colonel Klink (ret) (96f56a)

  12. @11 Even christian doesn’t have the same meaning to everyone. The fundimentalists hate christian existentialists more then they hate atheists and for better reasons. I went to christian schools growing up and look how I turned out! We said the pledge and prayed in school every morning.

    asset (0f6ed7)

  13. Nate,

    The historical argument would be stronger if the Legislature had demanded that other foundational documents were also displayed. They did not. That the Declaration, which Klink rightly says is the core of our Founding, is not included is instructive. This is a religious not an historical demand.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

  14. There’s no such thing as “Judeo-Christian values”, as there are fundamental differences between the two religions

    SamG (ffc4c9)

  15. as there are fundamental differences between the two religions

    Certainly, but there are common ones, too, such as, oh, the 10 Commandments.

    Kevin M (a9545f)

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