Republicans in Texas failed to pass legislation that would have required the Ten Commandments to be prominently displayed in every public school classroom.
The controversial bill, authored by the Republican state senator Phil King, would have required schools to display the Old Testament text “in a conspicuous place in each classroom”, in a durable poster or frame.
Passed by the Texas senate last week, the bill failed in the house. But it represented another sign of just how far to the right the conservative-majority Texas legislature is willing to go.
Civil rights groups condemned the bill as an assault on religious freedom and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the US constitution.
In a statement, the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties of Union said: “Parents should be able to decide what religious materials their child should learn.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a non-profit advocacy group, told the New York Times: “Forcing public schools to display the Ten Commandments is part of the Christian nationalist crusade to compel all of us to live by their beliefs.”
The bill is far from the first attempt by far-right Texas lawmakers to embed Christianity in public education.
In 2021, a Texas law came into effect requiring schools to display any donated “In God We Trust” signs, so long as they were in English.
More recently, a bill was passed in the Texas legislature that would allow religious chaplains to act as school counselors as soon as the next school year.
Another bill would allow public schools to observe a moment of prayer and hear a reading from a religious text, such as the Bible.
In 2005, as Texas attorney general, the current Republican governor, Greg Abbott, won a case over attempts to display the Ten Commandments on a monument on the grounds of the state capitol building.
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