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US state sued over Ten Commandments law

Activist groups are seeking to overturn Louisiana’s new requirement for the religious text to be posted in public schools

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other activist groups have joined with nine Louisiana families to sue the state over a new law that requires publicly funded schools to post copies of the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

The case was filed on Monday in the US District Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The plaintiffs claimed that the controversial law “substantially interferes” with the constitutional right of parents to raise their children in the religion of their choosing. The lawsuit added that the state mandate sends a “harmful and religiously divisive message” that students of different beliefs “do not belong in their own school community.”

Governor Jeff Landry signed the legislation into law last week, making Louisiana the first US state to require all public schools to display the Ten Commandments. Specifically, the law dictates that a Protestant translation of the Bible verses be used. It applies to all primary and secondary schools, as well as universities, that receive state funding.

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The Rev. Jeff Sims, pastor of a Presbyterian church in Madisonville, Louisiana, was one of two clergymen who joined in the lawsuit. “By favoring one version of the Ten Commandments and mandating that it be posted in public schools, the government is intruding on deeply personal matters of religion,” Simms told reporters on Monday.

Parents of various religious faiths, as well as some who are non-religious, are also among the plaintiffs. Alanah Odoms, executive director of the ACLU’s Louisiana chapter, called the new law “religious indoctrination” and argued that it is blatantly unconstitutional. “This law strikes at the core of religious freedom,” she said.

The legislation refers to the Ten Commandments as “foundational documents” of Louisiana’s state and national governments. “I look forward to implementing the law and defending Louisiana’s sovereign interest to select classroom content fundamental to America’s foundation,” Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said in a statement to WWL-TV, the CBS News affiliate in New Orleans.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed the new law on Friday, saying he would also like to see the Ten Commandments displayed in other public places. “This may be, in fact, the first major step in the revival of religion, which is desperately needed in our country,” he said in a Truth Social post.

June 26, 2024 at 06:33AM

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