The Constitution of the United States enshrines the principle of the separation of church and state, but on Thursday, the Texas State Senate passed a bill mandating public schools to prominently display the Ten Commandments in every classroom.
The bill,SB 1515, introduced by Republican Senator Phil King, states that "a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments" that is at least 16 inches wide and 20 inches tall needs to be displayed "in a conspicuous place in each classroom."
According to official documents, King introduced the bill after the Supreme Court sided with Joe Kennedy in the Kennedy v. Bremerton School District case.
Kennedy was terminated from his job as a high school football coach in Washington state for praying at football games, and on June 27, 2022, the court determined that Kennedy was praying as a private citizen rather than as a district employee.
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"Religious liberty was a bedrock of America's founding. For the last several decades, expression of that liberty has been restricted. However, thanks to this recent SCOTUS opinion, those restrictions have been lifted," King said.
On Thursday, the state also passed a second bill, SB 1396, which would allow the allocation of time for prayer and Bible study for both students and staff in public and charter schools. However, the bill states that the students or employees do have a choice as to whether they want to participate.
"A public school student has an absolute right to individually, voluntarily, and silently pray or meditate in school in a manner that does not disrupt the instructional or other activities of the school," said the bill's author, Republican Sen. Mayes Middleton.
Both bills are now heading to the Texas House for consideration.
Scripps News has reached out to both senators for further comment but has yet to hear back.
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