Displaying the Ten Commandments in Schools

Displaying the Ten Commandments in Schools

A strange collection of special interest groups has challenged a Louisiana law that requires displaying the Ten Commandments in schools. Atheist groups would be expected, and they include Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. More surprising is that Jewish families have joined in the lawsuit.

The Jewish parents against the new law maintain that it is based on Christianity. The law specifies the required text of the Ten Commandments. They say that in the Jewish version, the first commandment contains a section about God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. There is also a Jewish complaint that the law’s spelling of the word “God” should be “G-D,” leaving out the “o” to avoid taking the name in vain. Also, Protestants and Catholics number the commandments differently.

Similar laws calling for displaying the Ten Commandments in schools are proposed in Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma. The complaints raised by parents on all sides of the issue show a failure to do what Jesus told His followers to do. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Public education aims to develop secular skills in our young people. That is the work of the state (Caesar). The religious teaching of children is the responsibility God gave to parents.

The real issue here is that people who claim to be Christians want someone else to provide their children’s religious education rather than doing what God told parents to do. The suit argues that the law violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the state from “respecting an establishment of religion” because it specifies a religious text for displaying the Ten Commandments in Schools.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: JTA for June 25, 2024, by Jackie Hajdenberg.