A State Rep. Wants Ten Commandments Posted in Public Schools, Because Republicans Say So

Categories: Politics, Religion

Charlton-Heston-Moses-10-commandments.jpg
Moses: closeted Republican.
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court answered the question of whether the U.S. Constitution allows the Ten Commandments to be displayed on government property with a resounding It depends. In a pair of decisions handed down on the same day, the court ruled both that a Ten Commandments display at the Texas Capitol passed constitutional muster while those adorning the walls of rural Kentucky courthouses did not.

The main difference in those cases was intent. The Texas monument had been erected in 1961 and had stood unchallenged for 40 years, which was proof enough for Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion, that it did not amount to an endorsement by the state of a particular religion. In Kentucky, the displays were more recent and a thinly veiled endorsement of Judeo-Christian monotheism which the court found, by a 5-4 margin, violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Requiring the Commandments to be displayed at public schools is another matter. The Supreme Court settled that question more than three decades ago, ruling that such a mandate "had no secular legislative purpose" and was "plainly religious in nature."

State Rep. Phil Stephenson, a Houston-area Republican, is undeterred. On Monday, he filed a resolution calling for the Ten Commandments to be displayed at public schools and government buildings. Public prayer and frequent use of the word "God" would also be encouraged.

Stephenson flips the Supreme Court's logic on its head, arguing that, rather than their stated aim of protecting religious liberty, prohibitions on Ten Commandment displays and similar measures demonstrate "hostility to observance of faith by disabling the recognition of our religious heritage." That was not what the founding fathers, who, Stephenson writes, "believed devotedly that there was a God," had in mind when the wrote the Constitution.

All that is boilerplate for evangelical conservatives. More curious is the other piece of Stephenson's argument for public religious displays:

The overwhelming majority of voters in the 2010 Republican Party Primary Election voted in favor of the public acknowledgement of God, and the 2012 platform of the Republican Part of Texas affirms ''that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity, and strength."

In other words, we might as well make it official. Public policy in Texas is already dominated by the small cadre of Texas voters who vote in Republican primaries. Why not just write it into law? On what grounds could the Supreme Court possibly object to such rock-solid legal reasoning?

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144 comments
sandmanhh
sandmanhh

The answer to this and all the other "Lets ram evangelical Christianity into schools" bills is simple, whether they concern idiot Commandments displays, prayer, creationism or any other religious goofery. 

If the law is challenged in court, and the case lost, the people who proposed and voted for the law are jointly and individually responsible for footing the legal bills that will result. That way not one dime of tax payer money is wasted on such obviously illegal and unconstitutional wastes of time dog whistles to the politicians fundy base.

You can then extend that policy to school board members and the State Ed board members as well.

Bear in mind that the Kitzmiller case cost Dover school district around 2 million dollars. Similar costs accrued in the Ahlquhist prayer banner case. Both not in Texas, but good indicators as to how much money such stupidity costs you the taxpayer.

Hit the fundy idiots in their own wallets rather than allowing them to pass the bill on to taxpayers, and see how many more such waste of space policies they implement.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Can we talk some more about the goat recipe commandment?

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller I have started a new line since the issues are starting to get lost in multiple sub-threads.  Given the sad state of many of our schools, and the fact that many parents are not aware of the options available to them to transfer to another school or to look at a charter.  How does these facts support your preceived need for the government to do away with the separation of church and state principles and erect the 10 commandments on public school campuses?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I like your Jesus very much, but he no help with curve ball. -- Pedro Cerrano


I like your Christ very much, I do not like your Christians.  They are so unlike their Christ. -- M. Ghandi

crimjunkie
crimjunkie

E pluribus, douchebag.

Out of many, j.walter.miller.

MattL11
MattL11

I haven't done any research on this, but I am pretty sure that doing this STILL won't pass constitutional muster. That being said, even if you can somehow get around the inconvenient wording of the 1st Amendment and the binding judicial interpretations of it, would the teachers be required to purchase their own version, or would the state be willing to dip into its gigantic surplus education budget to foot the bill for this? 

Either way, I'm sure it won't pass. 

Salesmanpoet
Salesmanpoet

Don't they have more important things to do rather than, try to force people to acknowledge Christianity as an absolute. Seriously, this is all counter productive. How about focusing on improving academic scores, the quality of education, the amount of quality teachers, and just increasing budget funding for schools in general. What the hell is wrong with these people. I come from AZ and Chicago and none of these issues were a problem, I don't get it. Ok, so Texans are proud Christians, yippee, If your so proud, just teach your kids yourself, I bet they would to spend quality time with you...

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

I will add one thing, while a stutue of the 10 commandments or even Jesus should not be allowed at public schools, they should be included in the relevant curriculum.  Unfortunately for some Christians, so should Mohammed, Buddha etc.  Not with the purpose to compare contrast, but due to the fact they have significantly contributed to the way world societies have developed just like any other historical figure.

There is a fine line between presentation and endorsement.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

As Christians, we tend to rely on the government just as much as we gripe about it.  If we were really doing it right, there would be no need for welfare.  Many churches have taken this mission in house.  Many feed, dress and teach the poor. 

Hidden benefit - you can tell them about Jesus all you want while your doing it.

Some Christians also want our schools to have prayer and the ten commandments.  Obviously, we are not passing the buck back to the schools on our own children, rather we worry about the other children.  Why have we got so lazy that we don't want to go out and tell other people?  It is not the school's job.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

10 Commandments: Rules the rest of you should live by.

Michael Haskins
Michael Haskins

How about we post, "Allah is God and Mohammad is his prophet."

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

There's nothing wrong with the Ten Commandments.  Elected officials would do well to study them.

Dianna Orender
Dianna Orender

Hey, I have an idea! If they like the Ten Commandments so much, they can post them in their church! Awesome, huh? I think it's a good idea.

Lonnie Beene
Lonnie Beene

Why do they always want the Ten Commandments posted? Why do they never want the Beatitudes?

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

As a Christian, these subjects always bothered me until I was reading an article several years ago that took the subject from a different direction.  Separation of church and state was just as much keeping the government out of religion as it was keeping religion out of government.  When you look at the context of the time you will see how the Church of England was heavily influenced by the British Monarch and Parliement.  When you look at the early doctrine of the Baptist Church one of its founding principles was liberty of the church from the government.

The same safeguards that keep prayer out of schools, also keep Sharia Law out of government.  Therefore, we must think long and hard before we try and remove that safeguard.  Before any rule is changed, you must ask yourself "What happens when people I agree with are no longer in power?"

Rep. Stephenson justification that since the founding fathers were Christians is no more relevant than the fact only muskets were available to firearms owners at the time.  As a Christian and a gun owner, I believe that intent is irrelevant.  The only intent that the SCOTUS looks at is its current purpose.  Is its purpose a foundation of justice, law and order?  Or is its intent endorsement of religion?  Rep. Stephenson own words have let the cat out of the bag on his intent.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

It's obvious that a majority of Texas have had enough of the federal government meddling in their daily lives.  If they want the Ten Commandments in school then they'll get it.  If you don't like it, their are 49 other states available for your choice. 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@Rumpunch1 @j.walter.miller 

Dallas parents aren't that wealthy.  Most don't have the luxury of being able to send their children to a remote or private school, when the religious crazies destroy their local one.

And since they pay taxes, and the churches don't, they shouldn't have to send their kids away to school.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@MattL11 Of course it won't pass SCOTUS and its not because they are liberals, it because it is wrong.  As I said before, it doesn't matter whether its unconstitutional.  He tried therefore his base will re-elect him.  End of story.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@Salesmanpoet Unfortunately, the most important thing for Congress is the acquisition and retention of seats for cantidates and the political party.  Every issue is just platforms to include in election materials to achieve that end.  While you may sometimes gain by congressional actions, they purpose was not to be fair to you, but rather to acquire your vote. 

monstruss
monstruss

@Oak Cliff Townie Now there's a religious concept I can get behind. but not downwind. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@Rumpunch1 Who said the Founding Fathers were christians? 

Oh yes, christians do.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller I would whole-heartedly support placing the Ten Commandments in public schools, were it not for that little concept of keeping the government out of the Church and vice versa.  It doesn't matter if a vast majority of people, or even a powerful minority, want the Commandments there, it is a violation of Constitutional protections of individual freedom.  So unless you're willing to put the 5 Pillars of Islam, the 7 Chakras (sp?), and various full relief prints of different aspects of the Kama Sutra up in the halls of schools along with the 10 Commandments, it's a non-starter.  I do think religion should be presented in an academic and historical perspective to all school children, but I think it should include all major world religions and focus on the impact these religions have had on human history and cultural development.


The Constitution does not guarantee the Right of people to be completely insulated from religion, it does however, oblige us to refrain from implicitly pushing religion on people in a manner paid for by the public treasury.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller Although you are frustrated, you cannot look at short-term gains.  I don't want to live in the moment and just leave Texas once the safeguards have blown up in my face.  The presence or absense of the 10 commandments in my kids school will do nothing to strengthen OR weaken the faith of my children.  That job is solely in my hands.

Peacock214
Peacock214

@j.walter.miller So maybe the government should stop meddling with the schools by forcing them to display the commandments.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller I see your frustration, however understand that it could go the other way.  If we remove these safeguards, it may be all swell and dandy for a few years.  However, since we have a good economy in Texas and Perry is beating the Cali sidewalks trying to get people to move here, what happens when the majority opinion changes?

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@Montemalone @Rumpunch1 Although I do believe that they were Christians, I also believe that as true Christians they saw the risks to both the church and government without safeguards.

Regardless of our personal believes, I think my point was that founding fathers religious affiliation is irrelevant. 

The only intent that we had to look at was the prevention of government overstep.  Look at what the British government was doing at the time.  The relationship with the church and the government, the suppression of speech, and the search and seizure of property. That is the foundation of our constitution.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@RTGolden1 @j.walter.miller Then I don't want to pay for public schools.  Easy enough.  Get the government out of my pocket.  I'll take on the responsibility for educating my children how I like.  You can't have it both ways: reaching into my pocket then telling me what I like and don't like.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@Peacock214 @j.walter.miller The schools are created by and funded by the government which is enabled through taxes from the citizens in that locale.  The citizens get what the citizens want.  It's their money.  We are governed by consent, remember?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Rumpunch1 @Bremarks @Montemalone 

Quite relevant.

Deists (more or less) believe that there is a "Higher Power", but decline to define that power or ascribe motives to it. Their GOD, for lack of a better term was in and of this world, a God of nature. That's why in official government documents, said power is referred to as "Creator" or "Divine Providence", whereas Christians, by definition, define that "Higher Power" as GOD. Specifically, their GOD and his towheaded, hippie kid Jesus Christ (ian) (see how that works?). Whom, incidentally, they talk a lot about, but can't seem to emulate.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@Bremarks @Rumpunch1 @Montemalone Perhaps so, however, I still don't think it was relevant to their intent as Rep. Stephenson puts it.  Futhermore, when it really comes down to their faith, I really don't give a shit.  I just think that the rules the put forth are necessary even if I do not completely like them all.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@j.walter.miller You must believe owning a few shares of stock in a company means you can tell them what products to make too.  

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@j.walter.miller  

Oh please, stop with the "good try" crap. You are so full of shit. And remember, quantity doesn't mean you are winning the argument. Lame ass rhetoric is the same in small and large doses. 

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@j.walter.miller

"That isn't practical for most parents of these students because most of these schools are in the hood and the parents don't have the ability or means to arrange that transportation.  I say give them their money and give them the choice." 

Ah yes, the Libertarian fantasy. What bullshit. Ever heard of buses?

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@Rumpunch1 @j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 It takes way too long, honestly.  In the meantime, the students at those schools are getting short changed as well as the tax payers.  And the students parents have to come up with transportation to a different school most of the time.  That isn't practical for most parents of these students because most of these schools are in the hood and the parents don't have the ability or means to arrange that transportation.  I say give them their money and give them the choice.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller @Rumpunch1 @RTGolden1 After a certain number of years of failure to meet progress standards, they go through a series of remediation plans including curiculum changes, changes in administration and teachers until they are closed by the State.  It takes a while, but it does happen.  However, every student at these schools is by law allowed to transfer to another school.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller @Rumpunch1 @RTGolden1 No we are falling behind because we still have lots of shitty schools.  They get measured and ranked as shitty.  If you send your kid to there, then you have to expect that they will get a shitty education.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller @Rumpunch1 @RTGolden1 The current accountabilty standards attempt to do that.  My son goes to one of the best high schools in the country - even without the display of the 10 commandments.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@Rumpunch1 @j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 Sure.  Why should anyone be forced to pay for an inferior product?  Let the market sort it out.  The shitty schools and shitty teachers get the axe and the best of the bunch get the business.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 You obviously haven't read many of my comments.  I'm a christian believing, conservative, gun-owning American citizen.  I am subject only to the Constitution and the moral underpinnings I have within me.  I agree with the Ten Commandments and personally think they should be everywhere, all the time.  I also agree with the Constitution and believe it should be followed everywhere all the time.  In this instance, I take the admonition of the Bible and follow the laws of Man, as the government is but a function allowed it's course by God.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 True, however they are subject to the limitations of the law in that bidding.  This is just big talk in order to secure your vote in the future.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 And if you don't like how your tax dollars are spent, you can try to elect someone to office who will fight to spend them the way you think they should be spent.

Or, you could just not pay them.  Please choose this option.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@RTGolden1 @j.walter.miller I like how you use "public funds" as if they come from some magical hole in the ground where money simple springs forth.  A fraction of those funds are mine.  I get a say in how they are used or I'll employ them to my liking.  You're going to see more of this.  Get used to it.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 Putting the 10 Commandments up in the school is not going to do one damn thing to improve the shitty product our public education has become.  Public education is, by its definition, a public function, to be paid for out of public funds.  As such, it is to be as general and uncontroversial as possible.  Your right to freely exercise your chosen religion is an individual right, to be pursued at your own convenience and on your own dime.  You might need to go back and study the difference between Public programs and individual freedoms.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@RTGolden1 @j.walter.miller Not at all.  If you are going to force me to pay for public education then I'll decide what is best for my child since I'm paying for it.  If a majority want something in that regard then they'll get it.  Or else you can give me my money back and I can use it for private school.  You can't have it both ways.  You are going to see more and more of this as people get tired of being told you'll pay for it and like the shitty, inferior product.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 I think you're getting your ideals mixed up.  You are the one who is wanting it both ways, you are wanting the Constitution to apply to YOUR handpicked beliefs and ideals, but not to apply to the population as a whole.  It doesn't work that way.  'Majority rules' as a political doctrine is something an moderately capable 6th grader should be able to deduce as bunk.  To turn your own politically illiterate phrase against you, If you don't like the separation of church and state, find a country to live in that doesn't have it.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

@j.walter.miller @alteredjustice This ban was shot down by SCOTUS in the McDonald case just as Stephenson's bill will be.  

Basically, you can't have it both ways.  Separation of Church and State is just as sacred as the right to bear arms or the right to free speech.  You can't weaken one without weakening them all. 

Daniel
Daniel

@alteredjustice @j.walter.miller Of course, alteredjustice! Didn't you get the memo -- the Framers sought to ensure mob rule. And I can think of no dramatic affirmations in our nation's history that the federal government has the last word on civil rights. Hmm ... still thinking ... still thinking ... Nope! No such examples exist!

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@j.walter.miller So let me get this straight. If your local government, by vote, took away your right to own a gun or right to vote, you'd have to get over it? Okay.

Daniel
Daniel

@j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @Peacock214 I think it is you who has a mistaken understanding of government and of civil rights. Can they display verses from the Quran in public schools in Dearborn, Michigan? I should hope not. 

To call your thinking flawed would be charitable.  

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@GuitarPlayer The great his Hispanic invasion is over.  In fact, it peaked out a number of years ago.  The birthrate in Mexico and the rest of Central and most of South America has fallen below the replacement rate of 2.1 births/death.  That means more jobs in those countries for those people.  Our financial realities mean less money for welfare and social programs and certainly none for people that break the law to circumvent our legal immigration processes.  In short, soon it will be much, much less attractive to hop the border.

GuitarPlayer
GuitarPlayer

@j.walter.miller  

Yeah but wait until the Hispanics take over.....lol  Then you'll become a gun loving patriot if you are not already.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@Daniel Who said anything about our President, silly?  Sounds like you might have an agenda.

Mervis
Mervis

Please share with us, this data about our "excellent public schools"?

Daniel
Daniel

@GuitarPlayer @j.walter.miller 

j.walter, you would be a true embarrassment to principled conservatives like RTGolden if they didn't plainly consider you beneath their contempt. As for us left-leaning civil libertarians, you've failed to outrage us, merely annoyed us in the same way that one's best friend's pesky little brother did in childhood. The likes of RTGolden and I disagree on so much, but we stand together in proclaiming you an alarmingly ignorant fool.

monstruss
monstruss

@j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @CraigT42I got here as quickly as I could.

It's about here I realized you were some carpet-bagging piece of shit and stopped reading this thread immediately. If you wanna throw your hand in with those Republic of Texas extremists that's fine, but you do not speak for the majority of Texans, who are much  sane than the world gives us credit for. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel Conservatism is about preserving the ideals enshrined in the Constitution and in the writings of the Founding Fathers.  The writings of our founders repeatedly show a wariness when it comes to the mingling of religious and political power.  They had seen what results from that.  The Establishment clause is in the Bill of Rights to preclude this very type of thing from happening.  If you don't like it, move to some theocratic country.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @RTGolden1 @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel You are not conservative.  You very probably are Republican.  The two are almost mutually exclusive in recent times.  You obviously don't know jack about conservatism, the Constitution, or the foundings of this Country.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@RTGolden1 @j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel Texas is conservative.  It always has been and it always will be.  Get over it.  It's a great place to live and work.  If you want California with it's bankrupt pension system, bankrupt local governments and pot shops then feel free to relocate.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel This is where discrimination, bigotry, petty hatred and social violence is born.  The idea that inclusion in some artificial segment of society grants you special privilege is as patently Un-American, by the Founding Fathers' reckoning, as one can get.  This idiotic statement is the basic underlying reason for our Revolution in the first place.

CraigT42
CraigT42

@j.walter.miller @CraigT42

Now we know you are an idiot, and grossly ignorant and uninformed. I am a proud Texan, I love my state, but I am not naive or blind enough to think we don't have acres of room for improvement. Excellent education you say? Wen depending on who is doing the ranking we are somewhere between 45th and 49th in both results and money spent per capita?

Texas is fantastic, and it will be damn near perfect once we get Perry and folks like you out of it.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Again, you didn't even know what the Ten Commandments ARE.  And, you Don't want the Ten Commandments posted. 

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@CraigT42 I'm pretty sure Texans don't give a rip about what the rest of the country thinks about our great state.  We're Texas.  We have low unemployment, excellent public schools and vast natural resources.  We have an amazing coastline, rivers, piney woods and open plains.  Nothing to be ashamed of here in Texas.

Daniel
Daniel

@j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel And believe it or not, I have no problem with Judeo-Christian language in the public sphere within a ceremonial context -- a prayer before a high school football game, etc. We are socially a mostly Christian nation. I don't even have a problem with "a moment of silent prayer" in a public classroom so long as a specific religion is not endorsed. 

Displaying the 10 commandments in a public school is taking it to a whole 'nother level -- that is , in fact, an endorsement by our government. And you know it.

CraigT42
CraigT42

@j.walter.miller @CogitoErgoSum @Daniel

Are you really dense enough to believe that saying that the majority gets what the majority wants and screw the minority is totally different than Jim Crow laws? People like you are the reason that Texas is becoming a punch line in the national view.

Peacock214
Peacock214

@j.walter.miller@DanielIn fact they are. Requiring public schools to display the ten commandments is de facto endorsement of religion.

"Texans will get what Texans want?" This is a forum for grown up conversation, not a middle school pep rally, so moronic crowd pleasers like that line don't accomplish anything here.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@j.walter.miller @Daniel Wrong, j.walter. Let me put it to you this way: what if there was a school board in Texas that was dominated by Muslims. Would it then be OK to put a statue of Mohammad on the steps of the school entrance? This law is here to prevent even the appearance of the government endorsing a particular religion. There's no need for religion in schools because not everybody is Christian or even religious. Christian privilege is at an end.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

@Daniel @j.walter.miller Your rights aren't being violated, silly.  And the Supreme Court had no business getting involved in such things.  Texans will get what Texans want.  What you are seeing is the beginning of the end of intrusive, expensive, aloof federal government.

Daniel
Daniel

@j.walter.miller @Daniel 

In either case, Texas doesn't get to ignore the Constitution of the United States just because the "majority" wants to (if it even does, as you baselessly assert).. The federal government is there to protect my rights against these ignoramuses. Even an armchair Libertarian ought to be able to see that much.

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