The House on Monday approved, without discussion and without a single dissenting vote, legislation to erect a 10 Commandments monument outside the State Capitol.
House Bill 277 by state Rep. Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport, next moves to the Senate.
HB277 is meant to avoid falling prey to violating separation of church and state by applying to the “context for acknowledging America’s religious history.”
That way, the legislation intends to put a 10 Commandments monument in the same category as other historical documents, such as the Mayflower Compact.
HB277 generated debate prior in a House committee when it was questioned whether such a monument could make non-Christians and Jews uncomfortable.
But the legislation was still approved without objection in committee.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 ruled against Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky courthouses that proclaimed Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Ethics” under the argument that the displays had no “legitimizing secular purpose.”
But the same court ruled in favor of the Texas display because it represented “passive use of the texts” and was placed among other tributes to the state’s history.
HB277 requires the Ten Commandments monument to be located among existing monuments in the State Capitol grounds.
The legislation also requires that the monument does not cost the state anything, meaning that private donation may have to be raised.
HB277 states the monument cannot exceed six feet in height and four feet in width.