Texas legislators want to mandate that all elementary and secondary schools prominently display the Ten Commandments. SB1515 calls for a durable poster or framed copy of God’s laws about how He wants His people to live in every classroom.
The measure also requires the Ten Commandments to be written out, and the typeface must be easily read anywhere in the room. SB1515 passed the Senate: It is now in the hands of the House of Representatives and currently in committee left pending.
State Rep. James Talarico (D- Dist. 50) questioned the measure during its presentation in the Public Education Committee. He argued the “bill is not only unconstitutional, it is un-American, and it is deeply un-Christian.”
On the contrary, declared Rep. Candy Noble (R-89). The Ten Commandments are significant to American history. Her reason? The document informed the nation’s Founding Fathers’ principles.
Texas Legislators Push Christian Nationalist Agenda
Rep. Noble’s reasoning, like others in the Christian Nationalist movement, is devoid of facts. “The 1787 Constitution never mentions God, the Creator, providence, Jesus, any church denomination, or salvation. It is an entirely secular document, followed by the Bill of Rights,which further secularize American civilization,” writes Clay S. Jenkinson for the Governing website.
While Christian Nationalists push their “America is a Christian nation” agenda, they fail to remember that the revolution against England was to escape state-run religion and the monarchy. Nonetheless, like most conservative-run states, Texas’ politicians want to bring the United States back to a nation without personal rights or agency.
Thomas Jefferson held strong beliefs about the separation of church and state. In his notable Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom of 1786, he warned against compelling Americans to “frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”
Yet, since John Roberts became the 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court in 2005, “the court has ruled in favor of religious organizations 83% of the time, chipping away at the “wall of separation” envisioned by Jefferson,” Jenkinson continued. Notably, Jefferson was a committed Deist. Nonetheless, he protected his religious privacy and never publicly disclosed his beliefs.
Jefferson’s words are part and parcel behind Rep. Talarico’s argument against the 10 Commandments measure. He is the grandson of a Baptist pastor from South Texas and was raised in the Presbyterian Church. Talarico is also a seminary student whose reason for becoming a politician is his faith. “My church taught me that the two important commandments Jesus gave us were to love God and love our neighbor. Both commandments, particularly the second one, compel us to enter the political arena.”
Christian Nationalists Attempt to Legistlate God Into American Lives
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Religion News Service: State Rep. James Talarico: Christian nationalism in Texas is an ‘oxymoron.’
Austin American-Statesman: Texas bill promoting Ten Commandments in public classrooms poses complex legal questions; by Keri Heath
Bill Track 50: TX SB1515 Relating to the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools
Governing: The History Behind the Separation of Church and State in America; by Clay S. Jenkinson