Project 2025 partner senior fellow: “Public schools are religious schools”

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Citation From the June 21, 2024, edition of Family Research Council's Washington Watch 

JODY HICE (HOST): This week, Louisiana governor Jeff Landry signed into law some legislation making his state the first in the nation to [VIDEO GLITCHES] the 10 Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom. The keyword there. I hope you caught it. This bill would require the 10 Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom.

Of course, critics of the legislation, including the ACLU of Louisiana and the Southern Poverty Law Center, they're all arguing that the law violates students' and families' right to religious freedom. But in a society that applauds flying the pride flag in schools, do their demands for their ideology – do their demands really miss the mark?

HICE:  I mean, Joseph, really, is the radical left asking us to believe what they believe by demanding all their radical stuff on our children?

JOSEPH BACKHOLM (SENIOR FELLOW, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL): Well, I think the response there to Whoopi is that public schools are religious schools, and that's really what this moment requires us to recognize.

HICE: Good point.

BACKHOLM: And it is ironic that this decision has come down or this has happened, in Louisiana in June, which is, perhaps the – well, it is the longest religious holiday in the west these days. But we don't – we should see it as a religious holiday, but we have not seen it as a religious holiday. And the reality is, you know, religions come in different flavors, shapes, and sizes, and we worship different gods. And to be sure, the 10 commandments have religious origins for sure.

They also have historical significance to the United States and to the Judeo Christian, perspective, which is the foundation of Western civilization, and that's just a historical reality. So there are, you know, objective kinds of secular reasons to want the idea that we shouldn't cheat on our spouses and steal from each other and kill each other. Those are values that we should be able to unite around, and, of course, that's what the 10 Commandments exist to do.

But what Whoopi Goldberg is trying to convince us of is that there is, otherwise, if the 10 Commandments are not in government schools, that we are somehow, dealing with a neutral space where no values are being encouraged. And that is simply not the case, and Pride month is perhaps the best illustration of that. And we see examples of it throughout the school year to be sure. But Pride flags represent a set of religious values about who is in charge, what is the source of truth, and they would say, we are in charge, and our feelings are the source of truth. And those are just different religious convictions than what scripture gives us.