Ten Commandments in Mississippi schools

George Bannister is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Only one part of the three-part bill can be allowed by the Constitution

Democratic Mississippi Representative Credell Calhoun has proposed House Bill 1100 which mandates the Ten Commandments must be available in every school . The bill, in its entirety, wants to push three requirements on to the schools.

As per House Bill 1100, every school board in the United States must mandate a moment of reflection during every school day. The silent moment should be of 60 seconds duration. It must happen before the school day starts. The second requirement states that every classroom, cafeteria, school, and auditorium must have a display of 11 x 14 minimum size featuring Ten Commandments. There must also be the motto of “In God We Trust.” The third and last requirement is that the school teachers, every morning without fail, must recite aloud the Ten Commandments at the start of the class's first hour. Any teacher or student, however, could excuse himself or herself from this exercise sans any penalty. The United States Constitution allows only one of three requirements. The rest two are unhesitatingly unconstitutional.

Among all the three requirements, only one -the moment of silence- is permitted by the United States Constitution. This is valid in all 36 states. The states have made legislation directly linked to moments of silence in schools. A total of 23 states allow such moments. The moments are required by 13 states. As per the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court, such moments are permissible on the condition they serve any secular aims. This is the reason Calhoun did not write the word 'prayer' in the bill document. If it was written, then the bill would be instantly inadmissible.

There is no doubt that U.S. courts will reject the bill's other parts as they are clearly unconstitutional. It is interesting that the House Bill 1100 comes a few months post the Republican candidate of the Senate, Roy Moore, lost in the elections. Moore became infamous for installing a Ten Commandments monument within visual distance of the court. It was deemed illegal by the court and Moore was expelled from his position by Alabama Court of Judiciary.

The fact is pushing the Christian religion in this manner into schools can only be illegal. There is nothing great about giving teachers and students the option to opt out. Forcible injection of Christian Ten Commandments endorses the religion within classrooms. This itself is adequate reason for the courts to reject it.

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