First Liberty Testifies in Support of Texas Ten Commandments Bill

April 14, 2023
Texas Ten Commandments Bill | First Liberty Institute

by Jorge Gomez • 4 min read

Of Counsel Matt Krause, an independent legal and policy adviser to First Liberty, recently testified before the Texas Senate Committee on Education in support of a bill proposing the Ten Commandments be displayed in every classroom.

Texas SB 1515 states that elementary and secondary schools “shall display in a conspicuous place in each classroom of the school a durable poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments.”

The hearing held in Austin on Wednesday, April 5 began with remarks from state Senator Phil King, sponsor of the legislation. He argued the proposal is legally feasible because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which the Court overturned a bad Establishment Clause precedent known as the Lemon test. The precedent set by Kennedy, he said, “instead provided a test of whether a governmental display of religious content comports with America’s history and tradition.” Sen. King went on to say:

“This would be a good healthy step for Texas to bring back this tradition of recognizing America’s religious heritage…Senate Bill 1515 restores a little bit of those religious liberties that were lost and most importantly will remind students all across Texas of the importance of a fundamental foundation of America and Texas law and that being the Ten Commandments.”

Krause echoed this in his testimony:

“The law has undergone a massive shift…We think there can be a restoration of faith in America, and we think getting the Ten Commandments on these walls is a great way to do that. Not only do we think it’s a good thing, but it’s constitutional and legal as well, thanks to the Kennedy decision overruling and disposing of the Lemon test.”

Watch Krause give his full remarks in the video below:

American historians David and Tim Barton of WallBuilders also testified in favor of the bill. Their organization is dedicated to presenting our country’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious and constitutional foundation on which America was built.

They presented the committee with original copies of the first textbook ever printed in America. Originally printed in 1690 in Boston, this textbook was used well into the 20th century. They noted that it includes 43 questions on the Ten Commandments.

David Barton concluded, “It’s hard to say that anything is more traditional in American education than the Ten Commandments.” His son Tim added, “The very foundation of moral law for all of the western world for the morals of civilization have been derived from the Ten Commandments.”

Watch their full testimony in the video below:

For decades, public schools around the country misunderstood their obligations under the First Amendment. Many school board officials and administrators thought religious expression was forbidden on government property. Countless public employees, coaches, teachers and even students were wrongly told they had to keep their faith hidden. Religious expression was too often suppressed and censored in the schoolhouse gates.

While government cannot and should not coerce any citizen toward religion, it also cannot and should not inhibit religious freedom and expression. Thanks to our Supreme Court victories, a seismic, positive change to religious freedom law is taking place. Courts, state and local governments are starting to correct the many wrongs that previous bad precedents caused against religious freedom.

The Texas Ten Commandments bill is evidence of our Supreme Court victories bearing fruit. And these don’t just impact people living in the Lone Star State. Every American now has the legal foundation to go forth and place religious freedom back where it rightfully and legally belongs.

Whether it’s bringing back “In God We Trust,” prayer in schools and our government meetings, Ten Commandments and religious monuments, or any other expression of faith, now YOU can go on offense. We encourage you to seize this tremendous opportunity to restore faith in America.

First Liberty Institute | Restoring Faith in America

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