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A new law in Louisiana mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in classrooms revives longstanding political disputes

Visitors walk past a monument (Via Jeremy Williamson/Shutterstock)

A new law signed this week makes Louisiana the only state where the Ten Commandments must be shown in every classroom of public schools and colleges. This stirs up a long debate about how religion should be involved in government institutions.

According to the new law, all public K-12 classrooms and state-funded universities will have to display a large poster of the Ten Commandments next year, in a font that’s easy to read.

Groups defending civil liberties plan to sue to stop the law signed by Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, saying it breaks protections against government promoting religion. Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “We plan to challenge Gov. Landry in court.”

State officials point out the historical importance of the Ten Commandments, which the law calls “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

Other states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah, have also proposed laws requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

Painter paints the billboard (Via Jeremy Williamson/Shutterstock)

At Archbishop Shaw High School near New Orleans, a Catholic school, Rev. Steve Ryan welcomed the Ten Commandments being put up in public school classrooms. He said, “These laws, part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, help society stay safe. They make sense.”

In Baton Rouge, Attorney General Liz Murrill, a Republican supporter of Landry, said she is ready to defend the law. “The Ten Commandments are pretty simple (don’t kill, steal, cheat on your wife), but they are also important to our country’s foundations,” she wrote on social media.

Opponents of the law argue that mixing religion and government is unfair and against the law. Laser said, “We worry about families and students in Louisiana public schools. They have different traditions and beliefs, and these laws might make them feel left out when the government endorses one religious belief over others.”

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