Texas Senate Passes Bill Requiring Display of Ten Commandments in Public School Classrooms

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On Thursday, the Texas Senate passed a bill sponsored by Republican state Senator Phil King that would require the prominent display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms. The bill states that every public elementary or secondary school must display a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments in a conspicuous place in each classroom of the school starting in September.

The measure passed in a 17-12 vote along party lines and now heads to the GOP-led House. The Senate also passed two other Republican-sponsored bills this week focused on religion in schools. One bill would allow schools to adopt policies requiring time for students and employees to participate in prayer and Bible reading. The other bill, sponsored by state Senator Tan Parker and garnering broad bipartisan support, would ensure school employees’ rights to engage in religious speech or prayer while on duty.

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These bills are part of Texas’ ongoing efforts to press for displays of religion in public school classrooms. In 2021, the state enacted a law mandating that schools display “In God We Trust” signs if they are donated or purchased using private donations.

In a statement Thursday night, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said, “Allowing the Ten Commandments and prayer back into our public schools is one step we can take to make sure that all Texans have the right to freely express their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Opponents, however, argue that the state should not be involved in promoting religion in public schools. John Litzler, public policy director at the Christian Life Commission and general counsel for the group Texas Baptists, said at a Senate committee hearing this month that it was the responsibility of the church and other religious faiths “to educate children on their religious freedom, not the duty of the state.”

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The passage of these bills comes shortly after the Senate passed legislation known as a Parental Bill of Rights that would allow $8,000 a year for parents to cover the cost of homeschooling or private school tuition if they want to take their children out of public school. King and Parker did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday evening.

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