Op-Ed: The Threat to Constitutional Freedom of Religion by Displaying the Ten Commandments in Louisiana Classrooms

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The recent legislation passed in Louisiana mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms is a controversial move that poses a significant threat to our constitutional freedom of religion. While this decision may be met with approval from some Christian communities, it opens a Pandora’s box that could ultimately undermine religious freedom for all.

The Constitutional Argument

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly stipulates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This principle, known as the Establishment Clause, is intended to prevent the government from favoring one religion over others or from endorsing religion over non-religion. By mandating the display of the Ten Commandments—a distinctly Judeo-Christian text—Louisiana is effectively endorsing a specific religious viewpoint in a public, taxpayer-funded setting.

Historically, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled against similar efforts to display religious texts in public schools. In the landmark case of Stone v. Graham (1980), the Court struck down a Kentucky law requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms, deeming it a violation of the Establishment Clause. The Court argued that such displays have “no secular legislative purpose” and are “plainly religious in nature.”

The Slippery Slope of Religious Endorsement

If Louisiana’s law is allowed to stand, it sets a dangerous precedent for other religious groups to seek similar endorsements in public schools. Imagine a scenario where each religious group demands equal representation—whether it’s the Five Pillars of Islam, the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, or Wiccan Rede. Public schools could become battlegrounds for religious supremacy rather than environments focused on education.

This isn’t mere speculation; similar issues have arisen elsewhere. For instance, in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore’s insistence on displaying a Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building led to a prolonged legal battle and his eventual removal from office. The chaos and division that followed underscored the deep societal rifts such religious endorsements can cause.

Distraction from Educational Priorities

Beyond the constitutional issues, this law distracts from the pressing needs of Louisiana’s educational system. The state faces significant challenges, including low teacher salaries, underfunded schools, and poor student performance metrics. According to the National Education Association, Louisiana ranks near the bottom nationally in terms of teacher pay. Investing in competitive wages and professional development for educators would attract and retain quality teachers, fostering a more innovative and effective learning environment.

Moreover, emphasizing critical thinking and creative learning in the classroom is crucial for preparing students for the future. Instead of focusing on religious endorsements, Louisiana should prioritize STEM education, arts programs, and initiatives that encourage analytical and independent thought.

Likely Legal Challenges

Given the Supreme Court’s historical stance on similar issues, it is highly probable that Louisiana’s law will face legal challenges and be deemed unconstitutional. The legal battles will not only waste taxpayer money but also divert attention from more productive educational reforms. Other states, such as Texas and Oklahoma, have seen similar initiatives struck down or embroiled in lengthy court proceedings, resulting in division and controversy without any tangible educational benefit.


Louisiana’s law to display the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms threatens the constitutional principle of religious freedom and sets a dangerous precedent for government endorsement of religion. While it may be well-intentioned from a religious perspective, it risks opening the floodgates for numerous religious endorsements, creating a fragmented and contentious educational environment. The state should redirect its focus to addressing the real issues within its education system—improving teacher salaries, funding, and promoting critical thinking. Only by doing so can Louisiana truly enhance the quality of education for all its students.

Public schools, funded by taxpayer dollars, must remain secular spaces that respect the diverse religious beliefs of all students. Only by upholding this principle can we ensure that the freedom of religion remains a cornerstone of our democracy.

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