Austin, Texas — Public schools in Texas must display the Ten Commandments prominently in every classroom starting the next school year under a bill that was approved by the Texas Senate on Thursday.
This is the latest attempt by the Texas Republican Party to inject religion into public schools. In 2021, state Senator. Brian Hughesa Republican Mineola, wrote the bill that became law requiring schools to display donations “In God We Trust” sign..
King said during a committee hearing earlier this month that the Ten Commandments are part of America's heritage and it was time to bring them back into the classroom. He said the US Supreme Court paved the way for his bill after that side with Joe Kennedy, a high school football coach in Washington state who was fired for praying at a football game. The court ruled that pray as a citizen, not as a district employee.
“(The bill) will remind students across Texas of the importance of America's fundamental foundations,” King said during the hearing.
The Senate also gave last resort to Senate bill of 1396written by Sen. Mayes MiddletonR-Galveston, which allowed public and charter schools to adopt policies requiring every campus to set aside time for students and employees to read the Bible or other religious texts and pray.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said in a statement that both bills won for religious freedom in Texas.
“I believe you cannot change the culture of the country until you change the culture of humanity,” he said. “Bringing the Ten Commandments and prayers back into our public schools will enable our students to become better Texans.”
Matt Krausethe former Texas state representative and attorney at First Liberty Institute, the organization that represents Washington coaches, said Kennedy's case was a victory for religious freedom and this bill would be protected.
“Kennedy's case for religious freedom is very similar to the Dobbs case for the pro-life movement,” he said. “That is a fundamental change.”
Opposing the bill, John Litzler, general counsel and director of public policy at the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, told a committee hearing that the organization is concerned about taxpayers' money being used to buy religious texts and that parents, not schools, should have a conversation about religion with their children.
“I should have the right to introduce my daughter to the concept of adultery and covet her partner,” says Litzler. “That shouldn't be one of the first things he learns to read in his kindergarten class.”
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