Efforts to infuse religion into Texas public schools faltered Tuesday after the state Legislature failed to pass a controversial bill that would have required the Ten Commandments to be prominently displayed in every classroom.
The measure is part of efforts by conservative Republicans in the Legislature to extend the influence of religion into daily life in public schools. In recent weeks, both chambers have passed multiple versions of a bill that would allow school districts to hire religious chaplains in place of licensed counselors.
But the Ten Commandments legislation, passed in the state Senate last month, is pending in the Texas House until Tuesday, the last day to approve the bill before the session closes next Monday. The time has passed for legislation to be up for a vote.
The bills appear designed to test the willingness of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to revisit the legal boundaries of religion in public education.the court Supporting Washington State Football Coaches Last YearDuring an argument with a player at the 50-yard line over his prayer, Joseph Kennedy said he had the constitutional right to do so.
“The law has changed dramatically,” said Matt Krauss, a former Texas representative and attorney for First Liberty Institute, a firm focused on Conservative Legal Nonprofit for Religious Liberty. “Arguably, the Kennedy case is to religious liberty what the Dobbs case is to the anti-abortion movement.”
Religious groups in several states have seemed interested in recent months to learn the extent to which states can now directly support religious expression in public schools.This month, the South Carolina Legislature introduced its own bill Require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in all classrooms.In Oklahoma, State Board of Education approval was requested earlier this year Create an Explicitly Religious Charter School; The board ultimately rejected the application.
“Forcing public schools to display the Ten Commandments is part of a Christian nationalist movement that forces us all to live according to their beliefs,” said Rachel Razer, president and CEO of the American Federation for the Separation of Church and State, an unofficial Profit organization group. She pointed to new laws in Idaho and Kentucky allowing public school employees to pray in front of students, and a bill in Missouri allowing elective Bible classes. “It’s not just in Texas,” she says.
The Texas bill to display the Ten Commandments is similar to another bill passed during the last legislative session in 2021 that would require public schools to accept and display donation posters with the motto “In God We Trust.”patriot cell phone conservative christian cell phone company outside of fort worth, yes One of the first to make such a donation after the bill was passed.
But the legislation of the Ten Commandments goes a step further. It requires schools to post posters of the text “in a conspicuous location in every classroom” and “anywhere in the classroom in a size and font that is legible to a person with normal vision”.
Under the bill, schools that do not provide their own posters will have to accept poster donations. The legislation also specifies how the commandment should be expressed, with the text including the prescribed capital letters: “I am the Lord your God.”
The words, taken from the Protestant version of the commandments of the King James Bible, are the same as those that appear on a memorial on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol.Governor Greg Abbott successfully defended the monument’s location during his tenure as state attorney general more than ten years ago before the Supreme Court.
Legislation that would allow school districts to hire chaplains or accept them as volunteers was proposed to address issues in Texas and other states: school counselor shortageOpponents of the measure say priests cannot meet demand because they do not have the same expertise, training or licenses as counselors.
“Based on the way this bill was drafted, school boards could choose not to hire counselors, family specialists, school psychologists and replace them entirely with chaplains,” said Representative Diego Bernal, a Democrat from San Antonio. at a hearing this month.
“I think if the school thinks it’s necessary, they can make that decision,” replied Cole Hefner, a Republican representative from East Texas who sponsors the bill in the state House.
The measure, known as Senate Bill 763, passed the Texas Senate and then the House; the House must now agree on a final version before sending it to Mr. Abbott.
The Ten Commandments bill, known as Senate Bill 1515, also passed the state Senate, where Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is a far-right Republican who wields enormous power.he praise the bill As “one step we can take to ensure that all Texans have the right to freely express their religious beliefs as they sincerely hold.”
But entering the Texas House, the legislation faces problems prevalent in the Republican-dominated legislature, which meets every two years and this session brought in its members More than 8,000 proposed legislation: Deadlines in the legislative calendar.
Tuesday is the last day for the House to pass the bill. While Republicans rushed to do so, Democrats, with little direct power, took every opportunity for much of the day to repeatedly tirade delays in proceedings, a process known at the Texas State Capitol. “chatter”
In doing so, they prevented the Ten Commandments bill — and many other controversial measures proposed later in the day — from going to a vote.
“This bill was an unconstitutional attack on our core liberties, and we’re glad it failed,” David Donatti, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “The First Amendment guarantees families and faith groups — not politicians or governments — the right to instill religious beliefs in their children.”