Lousiana Requires Display of Ten Commandments in Classrooms

Lousiana Requires Display of Ten Commandments in Classrooms June 20, 2024

CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons: Flag Map of Louisiana

“Lousiana” in this title is not a misspelling, as I will later explain. Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry, a Republican, signed a law yesterday requiring the Ten Commandments in the Bible—set forth in Exodus 20: 2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21—to be prominently displayed in all classrooms of all public schools in the State of Louisiana. No other U.S. state has such a mandate.

This law, first passed by the Louisiana state legislature, raises many questions. The foremost is whether it violates the U.S. Constitution, which is generally understood as including the principle of so-called “separation of church and state.” It is set forth in the First Amendment by saying, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thus, in the United States of America, a person has the freedom to worship any deity or not worship at all.

For me, as a Christian, the moral principles set forth in the Ten Commandments are supremely important to my faith. In the King James Version, the Ten Commandments say several times, “thou shalt not.” Then it lists basic, cardinal sins to avoid, such as murder, stealing, adultery, and lying. Some people will say, “I don’t do any of those.” Well, the tenth and final commandment usually targets everyone—coveting.

However, the beginning of the Ten Commandments prohibits the worship of any other god other than the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many Bible readers don’t even know the name of this God/god, which is YHWH or yhwh (Exodus 3:15), usually pronounced Yahweh or Yehvah. (The proper pronunciation of YHWH has always been debated following the Second Temple period since ancient Hebrew, like all other written languages of antiquity, did not have vowels.) But because of the Jews’ practice, adopted since about the 3rd c. BCE, of not writing or pronouncing their God’s name, but often substituting for it the Hebrew word adonay (“lord”), we English speakers never read God’s name in our English Bibles, which appears about 7,000 times in its Hebrew text. Instead, we read the word “LORD” in small caps, which is the meaning of adonay.

Thus, when we read in our English Bibles the beginning of the Ten Commandments, it quotes God as saying, “I am the LORD your God, … you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3; Deuteronomy 5:6-7), “LORD” is being substituted for the Hebrew word YHWH/yhwh, which is God’s name. And for Louisiana to require this display in its public schools seems to violate the U.S. Constitution, which provides for freedom of religion. I will state this again to be clear: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN THE BIBLE FORBID THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION. That is, they only allow for the worship of Yahweh, the God of the Bible, the God of the Judeo-Christian faith.

Furthermore, one of the Ten Commandments says, “Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it” (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Ten Commandments were written well over 3,000 years ago. The world had many cultures back then which were far different from ours today. Just consider the days in which we work. Many Bible readers don’t realize that this commandment, about keeping the sabbath day holy, requires that people work six days a week. So, this commandment not only says that people must not work on the sabbath day, it also says that people must work six days per week. I don’t think many people today would like to change their lifestyle from working five days per week, thus Monday through Friday, to working six days per week, thus Monday through Saturday. Moreover, some of the advanced world is now moving to the adoption of a four-day work week, thus making the days of work only Monday through Thursday.

Moreover, “the sabbath day” in the Bible coincides with that ancient culture’s method of computing days. The Hebrews’ 24-hour day began at sunset, at about 6:00 PM, whereas our 24-hour day begins at 12:00 AM midnight, thus six hours later. That is why religious Jews have always kept the sabbath day holy by “resting,” thus not doing any work, from about 6:00 PM Friday to 6:00 PM Saturday. Some Christians tried to change the sabbath to all-day Sunday, and Americans in some states have had so-called “sabbath laws” to this effect, but that is a corruption of the Jewish calendar. So, for the Ten Commandments to tell present-day citizens in Louisiana to keep the sabbath day holy doesn’t make sense.

Finally, the New Testament—which is the Christian portion that has been combined with the Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament—never commands Christians to keep the sabbath day holy, thus not work on the sabbath. That purposeful omission is a glaring issue when considering if Christians are divinely bound to keep the sabbath day holy. Sometimes, this issue was brought to my attention as a PGA Tour pro golfer since our golf tournaments were conducted Thursday through Sunday. Occassionally, in Bible belt states of the South, professing Christian people questioned me as to whether or not I was “living for the LORD” by playing golf on Sunday. Of course, they avoided the important discussion about the definition of the sabbath, that is, when is it?

I used to jokingly call the State of Louisiana “Lousiana” because I did my two month basic training in the U.S. Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I’m now going back to calling that state “Lousiana” due this new law about the Ten Commandments because I think it will be challenged by the federal government in court and that it will not stand.

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