Texas is passing several bills that will require religious texts to be displayed in classrooms. While the legislation has garnered opposition from the left wing, it also serves to underscore the differences between religions and how they interpret the Bible.
On Thursday, the Texas Senate passed Bill 1515 which will now head to the state House for consideration. The bill requires displaying the Ten Commandments in every classroom starting next school year. The Biblical verses must be displayed on a 16×20-inch poster or framed copy. The legislation requires the text:
- The Ten Commandments:
- I AM the LORD the God.
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images.
- Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
- Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- 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.
The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Torah: Exodus 20:1-14 and Deuteronomy 5:6-18. Different religions divide the commandments up differently though all agree that the sum total is ten. Some traditions combine the first three into a single commandment based on their shared interest in worship.
The Texas version more closely resembles the Protestant enumeration as it includes the prohibition against graven images which is excluded from the Catholic version of the Ten Commandments.
While there are minor differences between the two versions, the legislation seems to be an abbreviated version that more closely adheres to the version recorded in Exodus which mandates “remembering the sabbath” as opposed to Deuteronomy which mandates “observing the sabbath”.
“[The bill] will remind students all across Texas of the importance of the fundamental foundation of America,” Texas Republican Sen. Phil King said during the hearing, according to the Texas Tribune. The Senate also gave final passage to Senate Bill 1396, which would allow public and charter schools to adopt a policy that would set aside time for students and employees to pray and read religious texts like the Bible at school.
These legislations are in addition to Senate Bill 797 passed in August requiring schools to display posters with the motto. “In God We Trust” in a “conspicuous place” as long as they were “donated” or “purchased by private donations”
The Senate also passed Bill 1556, which would codify the Supreme Court’s ruling in October 2022 Supreme Court in favor of high school football coach Joe Kennedy who was fired for leading prayers on the field after games. The new law will protect the right of school employees to engage in religious speech or prayer “while on duty.” School districts are allowed to require campuses to provide a “period of prayer and reading of the Bible or other religious text on each school day.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick praised the new laws.
“I will never stop fighting for religious liberty in Texas. 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,” he said in a statement.
“I believe that you cannot change the culture of the country until you change the culture of mankind. Bringing the Ten Commandments and prayer back to our public schools will enable our students to become better Texans.”
Texas schools had the Ten Commandments in the classroom in the 70s, before a court ruling removed them nationwide in 1980.
David Nekrutman, the Executive Director of The Isaiah Projects and an Orthodox Jewish theologian, has been building bridges between Christians and Israel for over two decades. He was supportive of the legislation.
“As we approach the holiday of Shavout, a holiday that includes the giving of the Torah at Sinai, it is refreshing that the State of Texas is willing to bring back the fundamentals to a nation under God; the 10 Commandments,” Nekrtuman told Israel365 News. “As Jews, we should be celebrating the passing of this law, which demonstrates that the Voice that spoke at Sinai nearly 3,300 years can still be seen in the classroom to provide a form of structure in a society in which the youth of today are constantly being bombarded with secular fleeting values that focus on the self.”
“True freedom is not about doing whatever you want,” Nekrutman added. “Inherent in the biblical value of freedom is the notion of responsibility.”