So You Want to Display the Ten Commandments in Texas Classrooms, But What Version?

Almost every plaque or monument that you see follows (never quite exactly) the list in Exodus 20

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly approved the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument that has resided on the grounds of the state Capitol since 1961. Now, Texas House Bill 307 would allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in classrooms in public schools by preventing school boards from banning the displays.

If we're going to have yet another debate about the issue, the proponents of these displays should develop a new argument. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer voted with the majority in the Texas case but on the same day voted against displays of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky. He argued that, even though the Texas monument had a religious message, it had been put to a secular use for over 40 years. The Kentucky displays were new with no history of secular use. New displays in Texas classrooms are going to face the same obstacle.

Here's what the bill's proponents should argue: What we call the Ten Commandments — our own version and understanding of them — has evolved to the point that it is no longer the same as the Ten Commandments of the Bible.

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