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WHEN it celebrated its Independence Day in March 2022, Texas’ godly Governor Greg Abbott posted a video to Twitter in which he claimed that a Ten Commandment monument on the Capitol’s ground was a “testament to to the values and ideals that helped shape the great state of Texas.”
The former Attorney General boasted that the efforts of “an atheist” to have it torn down came to nought when the US Supreme ruled in 2005 that it could stay.
Then in 2014, Abbott issued a statement regarding the US Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of governmental bodies to begin meetings with prayer.
Many governmental bodies on the local, state and federal level—indeed, the United States Congress and all 50 state governmental bodies—have a long history of beginning meetings with prayer.
This is a practice that is rooted in hundreds of years of established tradition—a ritual that has been customary since our nation’s founding. I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has once again upheld the longstanding and constitutionally protected right of governmental bodies to begin their meetings with prayer.
Since then the Lone Star state’s descent into theocracy has continued apace, and today we learn that the Texas state Senate Education Committee will take up a bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be installed in every public school classroom.
It is also to take up a bill that would allow schools to hire pastors or chaplains instead of counselors.
SB 1515 says:
A public elementary or secondary school shall display in a conspicuous place in each classroom of the school a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments.
The bill, reports David Badash for Raw Story:
Is extremely specific, mandating the size of the poster (at least 16 x 20), and that it be readable from anywhere in the classroom: ‘in a size and typeface that is legible to a person with average vision from anywhere in the classroom in which the poster or framed copy is displayed.’
Image via YouTube
The bill also includes the complete text of the Ten Commandments, in the version ordained by its author, state Senator Phil King, above, who is a Republican.
Senator King’s bill goes as far as to mandate that if a school classroom does not have the Ten Commandments posted, it “must” accept a copy if anyone donates one, and any extras “must” be offered for donation to any other school. It can also use taxpayer funds to purchase a copy.
Another bite at the cherry
This is not the first time that the Texas Taliban has sought to impose the Ten Commandments on pupils. The last time it happened was in 2019, when HB 307 was tabled. It says:
The board of trustees of an independent school district may not prohibit the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in a prominent location in a district classroom.
Image via YouTube
The bill had 15 co-sponsors (all Republicans, all white, all Christian nationalists, and all but one male) and was voted favourably out of committee in the run-up to Easter weekend, according to Andew L Seidel, above, a constitutional attorney working at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
The Texas House is seeking to impose biblical law on the state’s public schools.
The relatively mild language of the bill conceals its potential impact. The legislators settled on this milquetoast version, which stops short of mandating Ten Commandment displays, for a simple reason: Such displays are illegal.
Displaying the decalogue in public schools violates the First Amendment, and so do many of the commandments themselves. The injunctions ‘I am the Lord your God’ and ‘Have no other gods before me’ infringe the core constitutional principle of religious freedom.
‘Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain’ breaches the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, as does the command not to make or worship images or idols.
HB 307 is an attempt to use the machinery of the state to impose religion on a captive audience of children. That is precisely what our Constitution prohibits.
I cannot find any reports which say that the bill was a actually signed into law. Perhaps not. Which is probably why lawmakers are now pushing for SB 1515.
At the end of March this year, the FFRF declared:
Abbott is imposing his personal religious and Christian nationalist beliefs on students and citizens by banning abortion, encouraging censorship of books and touting a so-called parental bill of rights that would allow a minority of extremists to impose their views on others.
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