Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Louisiana May Require the Ten Commandments Be Posted in Classrooms

Bill author state Rep. Dodie Horton argued that the Ten Commandments are the “basis of all laws in Louisiana” and the legislation honors the country’s religious origins. The bill must be signed by the governor before it becomes law.

Louisiana will become the first state to require that public universities and K-12 schools display the Ten Commandments in every classroom after the Senate voted overwhelmingly to push forward new legislation Thursday, May 16.

Following a short debate, lawmakers voted 30-8 to approve House Bill 71. All "no" votes were Democrats, though a few Democrats voted in favor of the proposal.

"The purpose is not solely religious," Sen. J. Adam Bass, R- Bossier City, told the Senate. Rather, it is the Ten Commandments' "historical significance, which is simply one of many documents that display the history of our country and foundation of our legal system."

Authored by Rep. Dodie Horton, R- Haughton, HB 71 has been the center of controversy in recent months amid concerns the proposal violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing a religion.

Sen. Royce Duplessis, D- New Orleans, who identified himself as a practicing Catholic, was the only lawmaker to speak in opposition of the legislation Thursday.

"I didn't have to learn the Ten Commandments in school. We went to Sunday school," he said. "You want your kids to learn about the Ten Commandments, take them to church."

He added that the bill could potentially open the state up to lawsuits.

"We're going to spend valuable state resources defending the law when we really need to be teaching our kids how to read and write," Duplessis said. "I don't think this is appropriate for us to mandate."

Horton has previously defended her bill, saying during a House debate last month that the Ten Commandments are the "basis of all laws in Louisiana" and arguing that the legislation honors the country's religious origins.

"I'm not concerned with an atheist. I'm not concerned with a Muslim," she said when asked about teachers who might not subscribe to the Ten Commandments. "I'm concerned with our children looking and seeing what God's law is."

The bill must next be signed by the governor before it becomes law.

Its passage highlights the increasingly blurry divide between church and state that's become more common in several Republican-led states.

At least one other state, Utah, is also considering legislation that would require schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Texas proposed a similar bill in 2023, but it failed to receive a vote by the House before a crucial deadline.

Last year, Horton successfully shepherded a bill requiring classrooms to display the U.S. motto, "In God We Trust." While at least 17 states now require or allow the phrase to be used in school buildings, Louisiana was the first to require it in every room.

(c)2024 The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
TNS delivers daily news service and syndicated premium content to more than 2,000 media and digital information publishers.
From Our Partners