A state lawmaker wants Mississippi teachers to recite the Ten Commandments every morning in class. What’s worse is that the politician in question is a Democrat, and what he’s trying to get passed through the state legislature is entirely unconstitutional.
State Rep. Credell Calhoun introduced a bill imposing three new requirements on schools, one of which would force teachers to recite the Ten Commandments at the beginning of each day.
While the bill adds that teachers or students who refuse to recite or be present for the Ten Commandments are allowed to be excused without penalty, many have argued that the requirement on its own is unconstitutional.
The other two requirements are the addition of a 60-second moment of reflection early at the beginning of every school day and the placement of a display featuring the Ten Commandments and the line “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
While only the moment of silence is already in use in at least 36 other states, with 13 of these states seeing the moment of contemplation a requirement, the other two requirements stated in the Mississippi bill would not stand a challenge in the Supreme Court.
According to the ruling in the 1992 case Lee v. Weisman, the government’s expression of faith or religious piety might soon turn into a tool of coercion.
“Prayer exercises in elementary and secondary schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
If the bill advances and then passes, being signed by the governor, it might end up being challenged in the courts, and then there’s little reason to suspect the rules would stay in place.
Regardless of the lawmaker’s intentions with this bill, it’s clear that imposing certain values on a large group of individuals stands in absolute opposition to what the First Amendment of the Constitution states. As such, having public school systems imposing one particular set of rules or values, thus forcing students of different faiths to abide, can be quickly seen as indoctrination.