New Bill May Demand Teachers to Recite Ten Commandments


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House Bill 172 would force teachers to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to Mississippi, which says “I salute the flag of Mississippi and the sovereign state for which it stands with pride in her history and achievements and with confidence in her future under the guidance of Almighty God.”

Mississippi law may demand teachers and schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and see the Ten Commandments be displayed on public-school walls, but it gets worse. Actually, a Mississippi legislator, Credell Calhoun, has proposed a bill that would force teachers to recite the Ten Commandments at the beginning of every school day. Of course, such requirements represent a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

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The Establishment Clause is a limitation placed upon the United States Congress preventing it from passing legislation respecting an establishment of religion. The second half of the Establishment Clause inherently prohibits the government from preferring any one religion over another. Wouldn’t House Bill 172 favor Christianity — over all other religions, or lack thereof — by teaching children they can’t have other gods before the one true Christian God?

Calhoun filed the same bill last year and it failed after two weeks. The proposed bill would amend the Mississippi Constitution to mandate that public-school teachers and principals must display the Ten Commandments. It would require that school officials display the religious laws "on an appropriately framed background with minimum dimensions" of 11x14 inches in all classrooms, auditoriums, and cafeterias, alongside the motto, "In God We Trust."

Also, the school board of each school district shall require the teachers in that school district to have the Ten Commandments recited aloud at the beginning of the first hour of class — each day that school is in session. Any student or teacher who objects to reciting the Ten Commandments must be excused from participating without penalty.

While Calhoun's bill does not suggest a fine for non-compliance, another bill authored by State Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, House Bill 172, would impose a fine. As the Patheos Friendly Atheist reports, House Bill 172, would impose a $1,500 fine on public schools for each day they don’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to Mississippi.  For now, the legislation is in the House Committee on Education.

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