Louisiana becomes first US state to make Ten Commandments mandatory in school classrooms

Louisiana has become the first state in the US to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom.

Republican Governor Jeff Landry signed the law into legislation on Wednesday requiring a poster-sized display of the religious directives in "large, easily, readable font" in all classrooms, from kindergarten (nursery) to state-funded universities.

"If you want to respect the rule of law, you've got to start from the original lawgiver - which was Moses," Governor Landry said.

It comes during a new era of conservative leadership in Louisiana under Governor Landry, who replaced two-term Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in January.

The Republicans also hold a supermajority in the state legislature, paving the way for the party's politicians to push through a conservative agenda.

However, those opposing the new law - including civil rights groups - have vowed to challenge the legislation in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation said in a joint statement that the law prevents students from getting an equal education and will make those who have different beliefs feel unsafe.

"Even among those who may believe in some version of the Ten Commandments, the particular text they adhere to can differ by religious denomination or tradition. The government should not be taking sides in this theological debate," the groups said.

Those backing the change say the measure is not solely religious, but has historical significance.

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State funds will not be used to implement the posters, which will be paid for through donations and must be in place by the start of 2025.

They will be paired with a four-paragraph "context statement" describing how the commandments "were a prominent part of American public education for almost three centuries".

The law also "authorises" - but does not require - the display of other items in public schools, including The Mayflower Compact - often referred to as America's first constitution - the Declaration of Independence, and the Northwest Ordinance.

Similar laws requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in classrooms have been proposed in other states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Louisiana is the only state to succeed in making the bill law, with other places facing threats of legal battles over whether such measures align with the US Constitution.

In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled a similar law in Kentucky was unconstitutional and violated the establishment clause of the US Constitution, which says Congress can "make no law respecting an establishment of religion".