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Last week, Louisiana became the first state to require the Ten Commandments to be shown in all public classrooms. Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed this legislation into law, stating that if we want students to respect the rule of law they have “got to start from the original law giver, which was Moses.” The law requires that the Ten Commandments be clearly shown in the classrooms of every public elementary, middle, and high school. The commandments must be “at least eleven by fourteen inches,” must be the “central focus” of the display and must be “printed in a large, easily readable font.”  This legislation clearly violates separation of church and state.  

Louisiana also recently joined the growing number of states that allow materials from the conservative “resource” PragerU to be shown in public schools. Florida launched this trend last year, and six other states including Louisiana have followed. PragerU promotes alt-right propaganda, including problematic videos with deep misrepresentations meant to instill patriotism in students. One of the videos depicts Christopher Columbus saying, “Being taken as a slave is better than being killed, no? I don’t see the problem.”  Other videos have titles such as “Playing the Black Card,”  “The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party,” “Make Men Masculine Again,” and “Stop Climate Change Alarmism.”  

The Prager University Foundation, which is a nonprofit, has received large donations from funders such as billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks, whose wealth comes from fracking. Farris Wilks has claimed that climate change is “God’s will,” and has said that “If [God] wants the polar caps to remain in place, then he will leave them there.” Additionally, Wilks has compared homosexuality to bestiality and incest.  

The nation’s public schools must offer an accurate, secular education covering math, science, civics and other topics that help create responsible citizens. Public schools must embrace all students equally, regardless of their religious or political beliefs. Forcing the Ten Commandments into classrooms and allowing students to view hateful alt-right propaganda robs them of what they really need: a safe place to learn, a path to meeting their grade-level requirements, and the knowledge needed for future careers.  

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, recently called out the Louisiana Department of Education for facilitating a partnership between Louisiana Public Schools and PragerU. Citing the Islamophobia and conspiracy theories that run through PragerU’s content, CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor said that including PragerU in Louisiana classrooms would create a “dangerous and disruptive environment for Black and Muslim students.” 

Four civil rights groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, ACLU of Louisiana, and Freedom from Religion Foundation, have filed a lawsuit against the state of Louisiana over the requirement for schools to display the Ten Commandments. Rachel Laser, who leads Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called this legislation an “abhorrent violation of the religious freedom of every family in Louisiana.”  

The politics and culture magazine Current Affairs has released an online and print version of “A Student’s Guide to Resisting PragerU Propaganda.” This detailed resource educates students on detecting misinformation and manipulative data that may appear in PragerU content. Current Affairs encourages users to purchase the guide and distribute copies to students in states where PragerU content is being introduced. 

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) has many resources for individuals interested in fighting to keep religion out of public schools. Their website has examples of social media posts and a list of local chapters in each state.  

The Freedom from Religion Foundation details 10 ways that individuals can get involved in fighting for the separation of church and state. These advocacy actions include writing a letter to the editor, learning to leverage social media for advocacy, and sponsoring a debate or public appearance.