Texas to take up bill requiring Ten Commandments in every public school classroom

Texas to take up bill requiring Ten Commandments in every public school classroom
Greg Abbott in 2012 (Gage Skidmore)

The Texas state Senate Education Committee this week will take up a bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be installed in every public school classroom, and another that would allow schools to hire pastors or chaplains instead of counselors.

“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,” reads SB 1515.

The bill 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.”

The bill also includes the complete text of the Ten Commandments, in the version ordained by its author, state Senator Phil King, 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.

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NBC News senior investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh, who posted news of the bill on Monday, points out language in the Ten Commandments might be confusing to a first grader.

The Education Committee will also take up a bill “allowing school districts to employ chaplains to perform the duties of school counselors.”

The bill, SB 763, specifies that the chaplains do not need to be certified by the state education board.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, believed to be gauging a run for the White House, as the state Attorney General won a U.S. Supreme Court case allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed on the state capitol grounds.

A constitutional attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in 2019 wrote allowing the Ten Commandments in classrooms would “impose biblical law on the state’s public schools,” and added: “Such displays are illegal.”

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