Last year, Republicans in Texas tried to pass a law forcing schools to display the Ten Commandments. "The measure was part of an effort by conservative Republicans in the Legislature to expand the reach of religion into the daily life of public schools," reported The New York Times. The Senate passed the bill in April, but expired before the House could vote on it.
Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized the bill, telling The Times that mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools is a push by Christian Nationalists to impose their beliefs on society.
In this amazing video (posted below) of Texas State Representative James Talarico, himself a devout Christian, telling the bill's author that the bill is unconstitutional, un-American, and un-Christian, idolatrous, exclusionary, and arrogant. I missed the video when it first came out, but it is making the rounds online and is worth watching for well deserved tongue lashing Talarico gave to the lady who wants to force her religion on kids.
Talarico began, "I say this to you as a fellow Christian. Representative, I know you're a devout Christian, and so am I. This bill to me is not only unconstitutional, it's not only un-American, I think it is also deeply un-Christian. And I say that because I believe this bill is idolatrous, I believe it is exclusionary, and I believe it is arrogant, and those three things in my reading of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus. You probably know Matthew 6:5 when Jesus says, 'Don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners. When you pray, go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your father, who is in secret.'"
Talarico continued, "A religion that has to force people to put up a poster to prove its legitimacy is a dead religion. And it's not one that I wanna be a part of, it's not one that I think I am a part of. You know that in scripture it says, 'Faith without works is,' what?"
The bill author said "Dead."
"'Is dead,' Talarico concurred "My concern is instead of bringing a bill that will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, we're instead mandating that people put up a poster. And we both follow a teacher, a rabbi, who said, 'Don't let the law get in the way of loving your neighbor.' Loving your neighbor is the most important law. It is the summation of all the law and all the prophets. I would submit to you that our neighbor also includes the Hindu student who sits in a classroom, the Buddhist student who sits in a classroom, and an atheist student who sits in a classroom. And my question to you is, does this bill truly love those students?"
The bill's author replied, "I'm going to go a different direction than I think you're trying to lead me. And that is that a very great wrong was done in our classrooms with that 1980 decision."
Talarico then highlighted the inconsistency of the bill in context of parental roles in education: "Every time on this committee that we try to teach students values like empathy or kindness, we're told we can't because that's the parent's role. Every time on this committee that we try to teach basic sex education to keep our kids safe, we're told that's the parent's role. But now you're putting religious commandments, literal commandments, in our classrooms and you're saying that's the state's role. Why is that not the parent's role?"
The bill's author responded, "That's really an interesting rabbit trail that you've gone on with that."
Talarico further questioned, "Would you be comfortable with adding language to receive parental consent from all the parents of students in the classroom before putting it up?"
The bill's author declined, stating, "I would not. I am again going to keep it clean as it came over."
Talarico concluded, "So you don't want parental consent when it comes to students receiving religious commandments."
The bill's author asserted, "I don't believe that, again, I think that these are foundational to being a good citizen."
Talarico then asked, "Do you believe schools are for education and not indoctrination?"
The author agreed, "Absolutely."
Talarico pressed on, "I guess what I'm trying to figure out is why is having a rainbow in a classroom considered indoctrination and not having the 10 commandments in a classroom."
The author questioned, "Is that a question?"
Talarico confirmed, "Yes."
The bill's author maintained, "I am not arguing another poster. I'm arguing this, that the Ten Commandments are represented in our earliest education system."
Talarico expressed his concerns, "I just worry this is what gives us religious people a bad name, that instead of living out the way of Jesus, we're instead imposing our beliefs on other people. Instead of leading by example, we're leading by mandates. And so I'm very offended by this legislation. I know you and I have worked together and I'm not casting aspersions on you and I would love to work with you. But as it is currently written, I find this to be a deeply offensive bill."
Remember when the Satanic Temple designed a 7-foot monument of the goat-horned one for placement by the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma statehouse lawn?