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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Which first commandment do Louisiana school children have to obey?

The government of the state of Louisiana (USA) has just passed a law that requires ten commandments to be posted in every classroom of every publicly funded elementary, secondary, and postsecondary school [House Bill No. 71]. Here's the first one that's specified in the law.

I AM the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

The source isn't specified but I think it's safe to assume that the "LORD" is the god of the old testament. This is a commandment but there doesn't seem to be any penalty for disobeying so students can ignore it and create graven images if they want. They can even (gasp!) take the Lord's name in vain and get away with it.

It's a good thing that the first commandment specified in the Louisiana law is different thant the one found in the Bible (Exodus 20:2-7) because that one does specify a punishment for disobeying.

(2) I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (3) you shall have no other gods before me. (4) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, (6) but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. (7) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

That version is a lot more scary. It would mean that young primary grade children could be punished if their parents were atheists or Hindus. I can see why the Louisiana state legislators decided to pick a more benign version than the one that appears in the Bible.

This new law is getting a lot of attention in foreign media. I assume that's because lots of other countries wish their governments could be as concerned about moral education as the state legislators in Louisiana.


Anonymous said...

I refuse to take any moral guidance from a book that tells me how to treat my slaves, rather than not having a commandment against keeping them.

John Harshman said...

Isn't there anything insanely stupid going on in Canada that you could write about?

Larry Moran said...

@John: Yes, our media is also anti-science, especially concerning the lab leak conspiracy theory. We also have a problem with protestors occupying university property and universities being confused about how to deal with it.

But it's also important to recognize that Canadians are impacted by what's going on in the United States so some of us want to highlight the issues that Americans are dealing with in order to warn Canadians about what could happen here if we are not vigilant.

Anonymous said...


Jesus commanded we follow the ten Commandments. Mark 10, Luke 12, 14, 18, and Matthew 19. This is why the Christian Nationalists want the ten Commandments in school.
John 14:15 If you love me keep my commandments. However, these nationalist do not want to post the whole command of Jesus here. They leave out the punchline. "Sell all you have and give to the poor. Christian Nationalists, "Jesus didn't mean ME!" Spiritual counterfeits the lot of them. Most young kids quickly learn, there is no Santa Claus. That is a sort of backround knowledge almost al;l kids know by age ten. Exposing them to the ten commandments in school may eventually result in American school children knowing Jesus commands we sell all we have and give to the poor. This could get interesting long term.


Sharon James, Editor said...

Larry, if you have so much free time for whining, why not become a politician, rather than pretending you are a scientist.

Your anger toward idiots certainly must require you to propose specific ways to change the wider culture outside your mind. You should get an award for being the biggest whiner. Share with us your change protocol, not just passive aggressive snarky comments on how not to think.

John Harshman said...

Sharon James, Editor

What are you editor of? There's an obvious point, that religious indoctrination in public schools is a bad idea and, for an American, unconstitutional. This is not moral education, and several of the commandments have nothing to do with morality.

Sharon James, Editor said...

Two important points made by the eminent scholar PT Barnum.

1. Give the people what they want
2. There is a sucker born every minute

It is as true for academics as it is for the uneducated masses. Academics can spend their whole retirement playing PT Barnum to each other. Rather than debate stupidity, let us propose something specific to educate those you consider idiots.

John Harshman said...

If it's education you want, you could try reading Larry's book, What's in Your Genome?

Anonymous said...

P.T. Barnum didn't say #2 though it's commonly attributed to him.