The Ten Commandments and Public Schools

The Ten Commandments and Public Schools June 27, 2024

The Ten Commandments and Public Schools

Moses Ten Commandments Stones Isolated on White Background.

According to reliable news sources, the American State of Louisiana has passed a law that the Bible’s Ten Commandments be posted in every public school room in the state.

Of course, this raises concerns about the separation of church and state. But should it? That’s the question for discussion here. I’m not interested in knee-jerk reactions, only thoughtful ones and especially ones by evangelical Christians (broadly defined).

The Louisiana law is likely to be struck down as unconstitutional by some court. I’m sure the ALCU or some other organization is already preparing a suit to cancel the law as unconstitutional.

I admit to being ambivalent about Louisiana’s law. If the Ten Commandments can be mandated in public schools there, what about elsewhere? What religious-ethical codes might be mandated there? What precedent would this set IF the law stands?

Also, as a Christian theologian, I wonder why Louisiana is so keen on requiring the Ten Commandments be required to be posted in public school rooms? I assume that the legislators who passed the law consider themselves Christians, although perhaps some are not. Doesn’t the New Testament (Jesus and Paul) say that the whole law can be summed up with “Love the Lord your God…and your neighbor as yourself?” (Yes, I know that Paul abbreviated it to “and your neighbor as yourself,” but Jesus….)

Also, what about the command to “Honor they father and mother?” What if father and/or mother is abusive? What if he/she/they have a meth lab in the house? I could go on with examples of situations where honoring parents might not be such a good idea. (Yes, I know, someone will say you can honor them by turning them in to the authorities, but what child thinks of that?)

Also, what about the command to observe the sabbath day? The sabbath day is Saturday! Most Christians do not observe the sabbath (much to the dismay of many Adventists!). What answer will a Louisiana school teacher give to a smart student who asks about the sabbath? Even most Christians who think of the sabbath as Sunday do not observe the sabbath on Sunday. They go shopping, hiking, working, etc.

Personally, I think posting the Ten Commandments in public spaces is not bad and does not violate the separation of church and state SO LONG AS other ethical codes, reflecting community values, are also posted. The problem is there aren’t many as succinct as the Ten Commandments. Still, surely some can be found, abbreviated if necessary, and posted along with the Ten Commandments.

What do you think? Again, I’m not interested in knee-jerk responses or comments. I only want your thoughtful responses and especially ones from evangelical Christians (broadly defined).

*If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

"We read a book by him at Rice University in the 1980s! We (students) laughed ..."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?
"Okay, this debate could go on forever. I simply do not believe that foul expletives ..."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?
"So how far do we go in attributing New Testament condemnations of actions as only ..."

Honestly Asking Gay-Friendly Churches
"So argued the author of The Myth of Neutrality. I highly recommend it."

Can “The Universe” Have Intentions?

Browse Our Archives