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Texas Bill Requiring Ten Commandments in Schools Fails to Pass

Texas Bill Requiring Ten Commandments in Schools Fails to Pass

Albeit on a technicality, the bill's failure is a victory for freedom of religion, and freedom from it.

A bill that would have forced Texas public schools to display a copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom has failed to pass.

Passed by the state Senate in April, Senate Bill 1515 would have required a poster with the Ten Commandments displayed in every classroom, big enough for anyone to see. It was introduced by Republican Phil King, who said it "will remind students all across Texas of the importance of the fundamental foundation of America."

The Texas House of Representatives was required to vote on the bill before Tuesday, ahead of the session's conclusion next Monday. It was not brought to vote, making it dead for the session.

The bill was one of several attempts, some successful, to force Christianity into public schools. In passing SB 1515, state senators also passed SB 1396, which would require schools to set aside time for students and staff to read the Bible. That bill also failed to pass the House this session, but both laws follow a 2021 policy that requires schools to display "In God We Trust" signs.

Texas lawmakers recently approved legislation that bans "sexually explicit" books from school libraries, and mandates parental consent for "sexually relevant" books. Some community members argued that displaying the Ten Commandments in classrooms would violate that policy.

John Litzler, general counsel for the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, told the Senate in April that he and his organization opposed using taxpayer money on religious education.

"I should have the right to introduce my daughter to the concepts of adultery and coveting one's spouse," Litzler said in a committee hearing, via The Texas Tribune. "It shouldn't be one of the first things she learns to read in her kindergarten classroom."

The ACLU of Texas at the time called the legislation an “example of failed priorities and failed leadership.”

“The U.S. Constitution expressly prohibits the entanglement of church and state, and the Texas Constitution guarantees the freedom of worship,” David Donatti, an attorney for the ACLU of Texas, toldThe Washington Post in April. “Whether we choose to belong to one religion or none at all, people of all faiths and creeds should together resist the state’s endorsement of one particular religion.”

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