Texas Republican Legislator: We Need More God and Ten Commandments Displays in Public Schools

Texas state Rep. Phil Stephenson knows his priorities:

Economy? Nah.

Ending the wars? Forget it.

Jesus? Of course!

Stephenson filed a resolution on Monday that would push God and the Ten Commandments into the state’s public schools:

Rep. Phil Stephenson (via Raw Story)

“The overwhelming majority of voters in the 2010 Republican Party Primary Election voted in favor of the public acknowledgement of God, and the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas affirms “that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength“…

RESOLVED, That the 83rd Legislature of the State of Texas hereby support prayers, including the use of the word “God,” at public gatherings as well as displays of the Ten Commandments in public educational institutions and other government buildings.

I guess there’s no more room in all the Texas churches?

Of course, the Supreme Court ruled three decades ago that you can’t just put up the Ten Commandments in public schools. It’s blatantly religious in nature and serves no secular purpose.

But Stephenson isn’t letting a pesky little thing like the Constitution get in his way. If the Republicans who vote in the Texas primaries want the Christian God in the public square, then it should become law, dammit!

It’s not enough for him that Christians already have the right to evangelize and pray… it’s only worthwhile if he gets to force his faith down everybody else’s throat.

You know, for a man and a party that fight to limit the power of government, they really do everything in their power to get government to promote their own brand of religion.

I guess you can’t spell Yahweh without Ye-Haw!

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    As usual with people like this, they keep on saying the word god without specifying which god they’re on about. So, would he be happy with prayers to Zeus being said? No, thought not.

    • observer

      Hell, might as well use it against them. If he’s lenient for one god, he’s lenient enough for all gods.

      • http://twitter.com/SladeFoster Slade Foster

        This is exactly what happened in Louisiana when they voted to allow public funding of religious charter schools. When a few Muslim schools applied for funds, the xians went apoplectic. It was hilarious to watch.

        • Mario Strada

          That wasn’t that long ago (either that or I am really getting old). I loved it. I especially loved the flabbergasted attitude of the law’s proponent whom clearly had not considered that eventuality.

          I think we should found a splinter cell of the FSM and lobby to have it recognized as religion. It would be an awesome tool to combat this silliness.

    • icecreamassassin

      Well, they have narrowed it down quite a bit for you. It’s the god that wrote the 10 commandments. So you really only have a selection pool of maybe 10,000 gods or so to choose from. Duh doy.

      • C Peterson

        Well, the ten commandments appear to derive from Babylonian or Anatolian sources. The people living in these lands at the time worshiped hundreds of gods and goddesses, so 10,000 might be a bit of an overstatement. But by far the most popular gods seem to fall into either the storm-god category, or the fertility goddess category. If we’re going to introduce one of these into our schools, I vote for the latter.

        One nation, under Ishtar…

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

          Heretic! She is Inanna, Slayer of the Mountain. how dare you use the filthy Akkadian version of Her Holy Name. /Sumerian ;-)

        • Blaze

          One nation, mind controlled by Marik Ishtar, mind slave

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Yeah, that’s how I shut down some of the super-religious at my high school. They wanted to do student-led prayers over the intercom and knew that was disallowed. They figured they’d set up a sign-up sheet and then people could put their names down, so it wasn’t prayers led by one person or one sect, but of course the majority would be Christian.

      They knew I was Jewish at the time, and I wasn’t exactly hiding my then-agnosticism. So when I went up to them with a big grin and endorsed the idea enthusiastically, they were suspicious. I promised I’d be good- I’d start with an agnostic “prayer”, but the second time I signed up I’d use LaVey’s Satanist creed/prayer. Needless to say, they stopped agitating for morning prayers after that :) .

    • pagansister

      So true—as I have often wonder with the “In God We Trust” on our money (USA) just exactly WHOSE god it is referring to—seriously—I’m confused. As to this great idea—10 commandments etc.? Texas and the politicians seem to be, as usual, on a different planet—-

      • baal

        I often cross that vague ‘god’ out and put in YHWH(alex can I buy a vowel?), ALLAH(pnbuh), ZEUS(pbuh), or BAAL(pbuh).

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    “The overwhelming majority of voters in the 2010 Republican HolytapeisthemostAwesomest Party Primary Election voted in favor of the public acknowledgement of God unicorns, and the 2012 platform of the Republican HolytapeisthemostAwesomest Party of Texas Absaroka affirms “that the public acknowledgement of God Unicorns is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength“…

    RESOLVED, That the 83rd Legislature of the State of Texas Absaroka hereby support prayers, including the use of the word “God” “unicorns” at public gatherings as well as displays of the Ten Commandments amazing black velvet paintings in public educational institutions and other government buildings.

  • C Peterson

    These kinds of Republicans consider the Constitution to consist of the all-holy Second Amendment, and nothing else of value at all.

  • texan

    Thanks for not saying what you were thinking about Texas this time. Our elected officials certainly test your resolve to resist overgeneralization about our state. I will continue to vote against the morons when I can, but we have a lot of rural districts here, so we are probably stuck with them for a while. Supposedly the Dems are looking closer at our state as a place to push back and turn us blue, but don’t hold your breath.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      while it’s true people are generally more conservative and religious in the South, gerrymandering is the real problem. progressives and liberals need to understand this, and citizens in general.

      CA recently passed an initiative for neutral, citizen led boards to determine the shape of voting districts. it worked; far fewer republicans were elected. the only way rethuglicans can win these days is by cheating, buying and stealing elections.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Has it been used yet? Has CA redrawn any districts under the new scheme? I just don’t think “fewer republicans were elected” is evidence of much if anything. Granted the TX GOP took Gerrymandering to new heights, but it’s not exactly a partisan problem.

  • http://twitter.com/Ro542124 Gideon

    “You know, for a man and a party that fight to limit the power of government, they really do everything in their power to get government to promote their own brand of religion.”

    The party’s distinction is purely economic. Freedom from religion is far less important than the freedom to ignore the material needs of the rest of society.

  • icecreamassassin

    “…the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength.”

    I wonder if Rep. Stephenson can expound on this? In what ways is the public acknowledgement of god vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength? I can say that public acknowledgement of Galactus is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength, but I don’t think that statement would be regarded as ‘true’.

    • meekinheritance

      Oh, ye[-haw] of little faith.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I’m watching TV while reading this resolution. As soon as I finish reading I take notice of a TV Ad for “Tex Travel” which is showcasing all the wonderful things Texas has to offer. At the conclusion of the Ad the slogan is delivered: “It is like a WHOLE OTHER COUNTRY”. Man…. does that hit the nail on the head.

  • texan

    I emailed this guy as a 6th-gen Texan expressing my distaste for his bill. The form-letter reply ended thusly:

    “Once again I want to thank you for taking the time to contact my office. You opinions and concerns are invaluable to making decisions to better the great State of Texas. You elected me to represent you in Austin and that is what I plan to do. As always we look forward to being in touch with you and hope you have a blessed day.
    Sincerely,
    Phil Stephenson
    Texas State Representative
    District 85, Wharton”

    Ass.

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      I wonder what exactly constitutes a “blessed day.”

      • C Peterson

        Any day that your legislators manage to avoid proposing any idiotic new laws (obviously, “blessed days” are rare, especially in Texas).

    • Texan

      I should clarify, this was the auto-reply acknowledging my message. I neither received, nor expect to receive, nor desire to receive a reply addressing the topic at hand. I’m sure it would only infuriate me.

  • Witchgawd

    what rational American with an IQ above 70 would want to live this backwards ass state? Nothing but stupid coming out of that region of the country these days.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Hey now! I live in Dallas and it’s not that bad. There’s a lot of churches, of course, but we don’t have people preaching on street corners or policing religious activity or anything. Dallas has a world-class symphony, a super awesome new Museum of Nature and Science (http://www.perotmuseum.org), a pretty good MoMA, and one of the better goth clubs if you’re into that. It also has a lot of tech start-ups.

      Yes, it’s Bible Belt, and yes, this shit gets old fast. It probably won’t pass, but what better way to fight back than to live here and try to force change from the inside?

      • Mario Strada

        That is a nice Museum. If I ever go to Dallas I’ll make a point of visiting it.

    • Texan

      [raises hand] This is my home, always has been. I know and enjoy the company of many Texans who understand this is BS. I also enjoy the creeks, rivers, forests, beaches, etc. I also have never been snowed in. And even though the asshole quotient has risen significantly in recent years, I still appreciate the live-and-let-live mentality that stems from our fierce independent streak and continues to be the attitude of many of us. We can’t help it if the assholes are louder than us.

      What rational adult doesn’t realize there are both good and bad folks everywhere?

  • Olddaad

    Isn’t it about time this was made a scientific issue instead of a moral or legal one? Set up controlled, objective experiments and see if seeing the Ten Suggestions and hearing the word Gawd improves behavior over those who not subjected to such abuse. Once there is data proving one condition over the other (or neither), the question becomes much easier to defend/defeat.

    • Helanna

      I’m not sure it would make it easier to defend – after all, even if schools with the 10 commandments were doing better, it doesn’t mean we could or should ignore the Constitution to put them up everywhere – but it would be interesting to see.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I just wish one of these hypocrites would actually follow all 10. Including that ‘coveting’ one.

    • Rando

      I wish these hypocrites would follow the right ten. You know the ones about observing the feast to unleved bread and not boiling a baby goat in it’s mother’s milk. You know the list of ten that was actually called “The Ten Commandments” from exodus 29.

  • Miss_Beara

    Matthew 6.6

    It is even in the NT so they can’t use the tired “but it is in the OT so that doesn’t count” excuse. Of course they don’t actually read their holy book, except for the passages about those darned gays and against that darned evolution.

    edit: it feels weird quoting a bible passage, but it is an important one to remember.

  • Mario Strada

    I am so tired of these people. I am a US citizen by choice, but I am also a European Citizen and I am a simple application away from a Canadian residentship. The latter is getting more and more attractive.

  • Bdole

    Texan’s (and a few others’) foreheads must be hemorrhaging by now.

    The more you try to defend the Lone Star state the more publicity the stupid guys get. I feel for y’all.

  • Aspieguy

    I spent a lot of time in Texas because of military training courses. I would never live permanently in Texas. Too many Baptists and fundamentalists.
    How are school children going to possibly become more moral throught the ten commandments? Will they be forced to observe the Sabbath and keep it “holy”? Will they be penalized for making “graven images”. Will they be suspended if they utter the word “goddammit”? What if they are caught coveting another student’s Ipad?
    What is the Constitution to fundies? Obviously, nothing but a piece of scrap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.kushner.33 Jason Kushner

    Prove to me that there isnt a higher power and i will pay you 10000 dollars

    • baal

      I accept the deal but on one condition. First you have to prove to me that there are invisible pink unicorns in Bolivia. I will also accept proof that Ganesh exists.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leno.james James Leno

      Of course there is a higher power!

      Megawatts are more powerful than kilowatts. Gigawatts are more powerful than megawatts. Terawatts are more powerful than gigawatts, etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leno.james James Leno

    Religions can’t survive on their own ability to convince people. Their stories are complete crap. That’s why religions need to take advantage of people at their most vulnerable: when they are young and don’t know any better, when they are emotionally vulnerable during a severe trauma, or when they are simply too powerless to resist.

    This is not about truth, or prosperity, least of all freedom. This is about re-coupling religion with the power it needs to survive. Religious faith, without political power, is nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/june.maxwell.77 June Maxwell

    So can they just ignore the Constitution like that?


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