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Some legislators lean into religion in public education as Supreme Court leans right

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Kentucky’s then-law requiring that a copy of the Ten Commandments be posted in public classrooms “had no secular legislative purpose” and was “plainly religious in nature.”

Nearly twenty years before that, the Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored devotional prayer and Bible readings in public schools are unconstitutional.

These decades-old legal precedents, and others, haven’t stopped a recent wave of legislation mandating the teaching of religious texts in public schools.

Some of the legislators advocating to include the Bible and the Ten Commandments in public education argue that they have historical and moral value in the classroom, and also add educational context to American history.

However, these policies have prompted concerns from legal experts and religious freedom advocates who say that such mandates violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

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