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Theocracy Watch: Louisiana Mandates Ten Commandments in Public Schools

A poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in a “large, easily readable font” in all public classrooms, from kindergarten through state-funded universities now required.

New York, N.Y. Louisiana has become the first state in the U.S. to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom. This move comes from a Republican-dominated legislature under the new governor’s leadership.

Republican Governor Jeff Landry signed the legislation into law on Wednesday. This move comes as this deep Red state struggles with low literacy rates, which affect educational outcomes and workforce readiness.

In addition, Louisiana has strict abortion laws, including mandatory waiting periods, parental consent requirements, and limited availability of clinics, making it difficult for women to access abortion services.

Louisiana also continues to practice the death penalty, a controversial and divisive issue with ongoing debates about its morality and effectiveness.

Image: Moses and Aaron with the Ten Commandments. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Critics question the law’s constitutionality and plan to challenge it in court.

Supporters argue the measure isn’t solely religious but holds historical significance. The law describes the Ten Commandments as “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

The posters, which will include a four-paragraph “context statement” explaining how the Ten Commandments “were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries,” must be in place by the start of 2025. No state funds will be used to implement the mandate; the posters will be funded through donations.

Opponents, including civil rights groups and organizations advocating for the separation of church and state, vow to challenge the law. The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation issued a joint statement saying the law prevents students from receiving an equal education and may make those with different beliefs feel unsafe.

The controversial law reflects a new era of conservative leadership in Louisiana under Governor Landry, who took office in January after replacing two-term Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. With Republicans holding a supermajority in the legislature and all statewide elected positions, they have been able to advance a conservative agenda.

The legality of displaying the Ten Commandments in classrooms has been contested before.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar Kentucky law unconstitutional, stating it violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits Congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion.” The Court found that the law had no secular purpose but served a plainly religious one.

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Tags: Ten Commandments, Louisiana, public schools, Jeff Landry, education law, constitutionality, religious freedom, civil rights, church and state separation, historical significance

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