Jewish groups protest Louisiana law requiring the 10 commandments in all classrooms

The move is as a result of activism by Christian parents’ groups


WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 5: Activists display a representation of the Ten Commandments October 5, 2003 during a rally at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Christian activists gathered on Capitol Hill as the last stop of a five-state rally tour to call on the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court to allow the public display the Ten Commandments in government buildings. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is “deeply concerned” with a new law that mandates public schools to display the Ten Commandments in classrooms.

The legislation, which was signed into law by Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry on Wednesday, states that all schools must post a framed copy of the Ten Commandments that is at least 11-by-14 inches, in an easy-to-read font and be the main focus of the framed piece.

It also provides specific wording on how the “Ten Commandments” should be written.

“We are deeply concerned by Louisiana’s recent law mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in every classroom,” said Robert French, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. “While we hold the Ten Commandments in high regard within Judaism, seeing them as fundamental moral teachings, we believe this mandate undermines the core principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state that are essential to our democracy.”

Aaron Bloch, the director of Jewish-Multicultural Affairs at the Jewish Federation, added, “At a time when Louisiana faces significant educational challenges, ranking 47th nationally, this legislation distracts from addressing crucial educational needs. Furthermore, it risks excluding students of various faiths or those who adhere to no faith, potentially creating divisions rather than fostering an inclusive educational environment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union believes the law violates the “violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional,” and has vowed to sue the state.

“All students should feel safe and welcome in our public schools. H.B. 71 would undermine this critical goal and prevent schools from providing an equal education to all students, regardless of faith,” the group wrote in a press release.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Stone v. Graham that Kentucky could not post the Ten Commandments in schools as it violated the First Amendment right of free exercise of religion.

The law was just one of several education-related laws that were enacted this week, including legislation that allows for creation of the “Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) Scholarship Program,” which would allow parents to utilize a portion of their tax payments to fund “educational scholarship accounts” for their children.

Critics of educational scholarship accounts claim they are backdoor vouchers that endanger public school education and leads to funding of religious schools, while supporters say that it allows parents to choose the educational program that best fits their child, even if that is a Jewish school.

In signing the educational legislation into law, Governor Landry said, “Today, we fulfilled our promise to bring drastic reform to our education system and bring common sense back to our classrooms. A strong education system leads to a strong economy and a strong state.”

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