Thou Shalt Display the Ten Commandments | God's World News

Thou Shalt Post the Ten Commandments

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    Workers repaint a Ten Commandments billboard. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
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    Workers remove a Ten Commandments monument from an Ohio high school. (AP/Al Behrman)
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Louisiana law now requires all public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments. Supporters say the Ten Commandments hold deep import for U.S. history. Critics argue this requirement violates the U.S. Constitution. Some groups say they will file a lawsuit challenging the new rule.

By 2025, all public Louisiana classrooms must display a poster-sized copy of the Ten Commandments. This applies to every classroom from kindergarten to state-funded universities. The posters will also feature a four-paragraph “context statement.” The statement will explain how the Ten Commandments influenced public education throughout U.S. history.

Governor Jeff Landry signed the Republican-led bill into law on Wednesday. The new law also permits schools to display other important documents, such as the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence. However, these are not required.

Lawmakers attempted to create similar rules in Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma. But threats of long legal battles prevented these laws. When Kentucky tried something similar in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

The disagreement isn’t about whether the Ten Commandments are good. The disagreement is about whether states can require people to display them.

In 1980, the Supreme Court said Kentucky had violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This clause says Congress can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The government can’t make people follow an official religion. Does forcing schools to display a Judeo-Christian text violate the clause?

Judges also think about precedent. When the Constitution isn’t clear, Supreme Court rulings become official interpretations of the law. Many Christians have no problem with public displays of God’s word. After all, it’s the truth! But if courts allow Louisiana to mandate Christian displays, could states require displays of other religions?

Louisiana Republicans say the new law is not only about religion. They say these commandments have historical significance. Christian values, such as justice and freedom, influenced the creation of the United States. The new bill describes the Ten Commandments as “foundational documents of our state and national government.”

As Christians, it’s important to remember the purpose of God’s law. The commandments show us what is good. But in Romans, Paul tells us they do more than that. God’s laws reveal our sin. (Romans 7:7) Have you ever felt like you can’t live up to God’s commands? That’s how they’re supposed to make people feel. God’s commandments remind us we can’t achieve righteousness on our own. Only Jesus could do that. He frees us to follow God.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. — Romans 8:3-4