Is Christianity Gaining a Foothold in U.S. Schools?

SharePinEmailThe Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ensures that there is a real separation between church and state. The U.S. government cannot promote or favor any religion over another, including in America’s public schools. Louisiana’s bid to make religious inclusion mandatory across all public schools has shocked the nation and resulted in a legal challenge….

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ensures that there is a real separation between church and state. The U.S. government cannot promote or favor any religion over another, including in America’s public schools. Louisiana’s bid to make religious inclusion mandatory across all public schools has shocked the nation and resulted in a legal challenge. Here is everything you need to know about this unprecedented move.

What Are Louisiana Lawmakers Proposing?

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Lawmakers across Louisiana want Governor Jeff Landry to sign a new bill into law. The bill requires all public schools and colleges across the state to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom. 

How Has the Proposal Reached This Stage?

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The House of Representatives for the state voted on the bill under House Bill 71, referred to as HB71. The final passage of HB71 was achieved with a 79-16 vote. This means that the Republican Governor of Louisiana, Jeff Landry, has now passed the bill.

Who Voted for HB71?

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Of the 79-16 vote in favor of HB71 to implement the Ten Commandments in schools, only Democrat Representatives voted against the proposed legislation. All Republican Representatives of the state of Louisiana voted in favor of the HB71 proposal.

What Does This Mean for Public Schools and Colleges?

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Public schools and colleges in the state of Louisiana will be required to display the Ten Commandments in every classroom if the bill becomes law. They will not be able to abstain from this requirement or they will face a form of prosecution.

What Does the Legislation Say Should Be Produced?

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A “poster or framed document” should be produced that “is at least eleven inches by fourteen inches”. The text of the Ten Commandments must take center stage on this poster or framed document, using the “exact language” and should be “easily readable”.

Why Do Louisiana Lawmakers Want to Implement HB71?

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Louisiana State Representative Dodie Horton has explained that displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools provides students with a “moral code”. She has explained that the laws of Louisiana are all based on the Ten Commandments and this should be portrayed for all to see.

Why Are Some Representatives Objecting to This Legislation?

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The First Amendment includes the Establishment Clause that prevents the US government from establishing a religion or promoting any religion at all. This ensures that there is a true separation between state and church. Some Democrat Representatives believe that passing HB71 breaches the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and is, therefore, not legal.

Why Does the Establishment Clause Exist?

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When considering the US Constitution, it is essential to remember the historical context at the time of writing. The colonies were made up of many different people who followed a variety of religions. Some of these people were fleeing their native countries due to religious persecution and were looking for a home where they could live freely. As a result, the Establishment Clause was created.

What Does the First Amendment Say?

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The First Amendment of the US Constitution provides a series of freedoms to Americans. The most famous freedom is “freedom of speech”, allowing you to talk freely without the government restraining you. Additionally, the First Amendment provides for “freedom of the press”, “freedom of assembly”, the “right to petition”, and “freedom of religion”.

What Does “Freedom of Religion” Mean?

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The “freedom of religion” allows all Americans to practice any religion of their choosing. Religious freedom is protected nationwide. This can be separated into two clauses, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

What Does the Establishment Clause Say?

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The Establishment Clause prevents the government from choosing one religion over other religions. It ensures that the government can never establish an official religion of the United States of America.

What Does the Free Exercise Clause Say?

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The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects the rights of any American to practice the religion of their choosing. It also ensures that the government is prevented from interfering with your right to practice your religion.

Have Any Other States Implemented This Requirement?

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Several other states have attempted to implement similar legislation regarding allowing religion in public schools and colleges. These states include Texas, Utah, and South Carolina. But despite gathering a high level of support in each state, the bills did not reach fruition or become legislation.

What Happened With Legislative Efforts in Texas?

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Representatives in Texas tried to mandate the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools and colleges. The State Senate in Texas passed this bill also, but it did not get through the House. Additionally, Senate Bill Number 763 was created to allow faith-based chaplains to enter public schools and colleges and offer support and spiritual guidance. However, this bill did not achieve success either.

What Happened With Legislative Efforts in Utah?

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Proposed legislation in Utah also aimed to mandate Christian practices in public schools and colleges, justifying the values of the state as a reason to implement the legislation. However, this change in law did not pass the final stage. This included displaying religious imagery in schools.

What Happened With Legislative Efforts in South Carolina?

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Lawmakers in South Carolina wanted to mandate the display of “In God We Trust” posters inside all classrooms in the state. Republican Representatives argued that this legislation would promote patriotic values in schools and colleges. Lawmakers also wanted to add mandated training for teachers about religion. All forms of legislative effort were unsuccessful.

Have There Been Legal Challenges Regarding Religion?

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There have been many legal challenges over the decades from Americans who want religion to be promoted or prohibited in public schools and colleges. A key decision from the Supreme Court concerns a praying football coach, stating that the prayers of a football coach on a football field amounted to free speech and should not be prohibited by a school district. These Supreme Court rulings suggest that a looser interpretation of the Establishment Clause is being upheld.

Who Will Oppose HB71 in Louisiana?

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A vast range of civil rights organizations are likely to oppose Louisiana’s HB71. This includes the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

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