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Monday, May 27, 2024

The Ten Commandments in Louisiana

My new essay for The Hill explains that Louisiana's Ten Commandments law is unconstitutional for more reasons than you might think. Here is the gist:

Louisiana wants the Ten Commandments in schools. But which version?

Once it is signed by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, Louisiana will be the only state to mandate displaying the Ten Commandments, “on a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches” in every classroom, “printed in a large, easily readable font.” 

The very specificity of the bill, which includes a governmentally endorsed religious text, may prove its undoing.

Posting the Ten Commandments is an essentially religious act — not only because it favors religion over non-religion, but also because it invariably favors one faith tradition over others.

The Louisiana statute requires a distinctly Protestant text, with Elizabethan language based on the King James Bible, which differs significantly from the versions used by Catholics, Jews and others. Some differences are inconsequential, but others have deep theological implications.

That is where the Louisiana legislature went badly wrong. Even the simple act of posting the Ten Commandments in schoolrooms can signify centuries-old religious discord.

You can read the full essay at The Hill.

Posted by Steve Lubet on May 27, 2024 at 10:25 AM | Permalink


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