Louisiana bill seeks to require 10 Commandments displays in public schools

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Louisiana lawmakers are getting close to passing a bill that would require public schools to display the Ten Commandments on school property, despite concerns over the religious nature of the document.

Last Thursday, the Louisiana Senate voted 30-8 in favor of House Bill 71, a measure that requires government-funded schools to “display the Ten Commandments in each building it uses and classroom in each school under its jurisdiction.”

“The nature of the display shall be determined by each governing authority with a minimum requirement that the Ten Commandments shall be displayed on a poster or framed document that is at least eleven inches by fourteen inches,” the bill states. 

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“The text of the Ten Commandments shall be the central focus of the poster or framed document and shall be printed in a large, easily readable font.”

An amendment by State Senator John Morris III that allowed schools to display other historical documents like the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence was added to the bill.

Because of this, the bill has to be voted on again by the state house of representatives before it can go to the desk of Gov. Jeff Landry, according to news station KALB in Alexandria, Louisiana. 

State Sen. Adam Bass, R-Bossier Parish, expressed support for the legislation, arguing that the bill does not unconstitutionally establish a religion, given the historical significance of the Decalogue.

“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,” said Bass, as quoted by KALB.

State Sen. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, was one of the few lawmakers to speak out against HB 71, arguing that the proposed legislation raised “serious constitutional concerns.”

“I was raised Catholic,” said Duplessis, as quoted by Spectrum News. “I am still a practicing Catholic, OK? But I didn't have to learn the Ten Commandments in school.”

“We went to Sunday school. That's why we have church. You want your kids to learn about the Ten Commandments? Take them to church.”

HB 71 was originally introduced by Rep. Dodie Horton back in February, and passed the Louisiana House in April by a vote of 82 to 19.

Last year, Louisiana passed a law requiring public schools to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in all classrooms, with the document having to be framed and at least 11 inches by 14 inches.

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