FFRF co-president warns of legal action in La. op-ed

Annie Laurie Gaylor headshot

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor has penned an op-ed published in a Louisiana newspaper warning of legal action if the Statehouse passes a constitutionally problematic Ten Commandments bill. 

“My organization will take the state of Louisiana to court if the Legislature approves a bill requiring every public elementary, secondary and postsecondary school, as well as nonpublic schools that receive public funding, to prominently display a large copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom,” she writes in a column that has run in the Hammond, La., newspaper The Daily Star.

Gaylor continues by examining the commandments and their lack of relevance to public education:

The first four violate our First Amendment by ordering which god to worship, barring graven images or taking the Lord’s name in vain and designating a Sabbath. The state of Louisiana and its public schools have no business telling students which god to have, how many gods to have – or whether to have any gods at all.

The Fifth Commandment, honoring parents, is not something that can be legislated. Every human society of whatever religious persuasion has adopted laws against killing (the Sixth Commandment) and theft (the Eighth), but in most societies they wisely aren’t couched in absolutes.

Then there’s that Seventh Commandment so supposedly relevant to our K-12 classrooms: adultery. A public school teacher who laudably testified against the bill asked: “Am I going to have to explain to a middle school child what adultery is?” Then imagine the dilemma of kindergarten teachers!

As for the Ninth against “bearing false witness,” the United States already has secular regulations against perjury and false advertising, thank you.

The Tenth Commandment must be condemned as both inane and sexist: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.” This commandment insultingly is directed at men and treats women as male property. “Manservant” and “maidservant” are Bible-speak for enslaved persons. And why would the state of Louisiana care if you “covet” your neighbor’s house? If we outlaw coveting, our entire free enterprise system would collapse.

Gaylor concludes with a condemnation of the bill’s unconstitutional nature: “Louisiana legislators are weighing in on what is generally disagreed upon even by various Christian sects, which is precisely the kind of government action the Framers of our secular Constitution sought to prohibit.”

You can read the full op-ed here.

This column is part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s initiative to engage with pertinent issues at the national and the state levels and spread the messages of freethought and nontheism to a broader audience.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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