Thou Shalt Post the Ten Commandments

Louisiana becomes first state nationwide to pass such a law.

By Nancy Flory Published on June 22, 2024

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed legislation earlier this week requiring the Ten Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom starting this fall. The new law is the first of its kind nationwide.

Landry said HB 71 was one of his “favorite” bills to sign. 

“If you want to respect the rule of law,” he said, “you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses.” (Of course, Moses received the Commandments from God.) 

The governor expects lawsuits to be filed; already, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have stated that they will fight the “blatantly unconstitutional” law.

Landry is undaunted. “I can’t wait to be sued,” he said at a Republican fundraiser in Nashville last Saturday.

The Right Side of History

State funds will not be used to fulfill the mandate under the new law. Rather, the posters will be paid for through donations.

Gene Mills, president of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum in Baton Rouge, told The Stream that although the group was not involved in drafting the original legislation sponsored by state Rep. Dodie Horton (R- Haughton), it did help review and refine it.

“Our goal was to ensure that the bill was written in a manner consistent with current case law,” he told The Stream.

Recent decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court have allowed more religious expression on school grounds. One such case is Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which Joseph Kennedy lost his job as a public high school football coach because he refused to stop praying on the field after games. The Court ruled that Bremerton School District violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights by firing him. Person religious expression, however, is different than government speech.

“During the legislative process, we consulted with religious liberty legal experts in Louisiana as well as national allies like Alliance Defending Freedom, Wallbuilders and others to craft language most likely to withstand SCOTUS scrutiny,” Mills explained. “In the end, Rep. Horton revised her bill to ensure that no public funds would be expended, and that the Decalogue would be presented in the context of other documents central to the history of our country.”

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Mills added that if the posting of the Ten Commandments provides guidance to kids hungry for direction and meaning in their lives, then children and families across Louisiana will be enriched.

“The Moral Code set forth in the Decalogue: Do not lie, do not steal, do not cheat, honor parents, etc., is what Western Civilization was founded upon, and it transcends religion, with significant secular and historical purposes which afford guidance for human flourishing,” he said. “LFF celebrates the restoration of the Decalogue to its proper place in American history, jurisprudence, and public education. Our state is on the right side of history!”

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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