In late April, the Republican-led Texas state Senate approved a law that would require every public and charter school classroom to display a poster of the Ten Commandments. On Tuesday, a Texas House committee on public education held an open discussion of the bill, with Republican state Rep. Candy Noble explaining why we should force her version of Christianity down our children’s throats.
Unfortunately for Noble, Democratic state Rep. James Talarico is on that committee, and he had some serious questions for the conservative Christian. Talarico is also practicing Christian and his reading of the Bible actually includes citing of the Gospels, which happens to fly in the face of the conservative Christian theocracy being pushed in the Lone Star state.
It was something to watch.
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Talarico began by noting the Ten Commandments are very hard to follow, which he believes to be intentional. He pointed out that much of the Texas legislature does not seem able to follow many of the Commandments. For example, the legislature is set to work on Saturday—which is the Sabbath day. That’s a no-no. Noble had to admit that is true. Talarico then pointed out that the commandments also maintain that “Thou Shall Not Kill,” and yet the Texas legislature, backed by Republicans, continues to allow the death penalty in the state.
Noble’s response here was pretty pathetic, saying, “Again, we are using the words that are on the monument,” alluding to “murder.” Talarico then mentioned adultery, and legislators let that one pass by without much further comment.
On the Second Commandment, about not making any graven images, Talarico asked, “The idea that some people would try to make an object, maybe two tablets to worship, rather than worshipping the god behind those two tablets. Are you worried that this bill is idolatrous?”
Noble said she’s isn’t, and he asked if she would be “open to an amendment to the bill saying that if a member of the legislature violates these commandments that we can no longer mandate public school teachers put it in classrooms.” Hehe. She said she’d rather not touch the bill, as it came from the state Senate.
After pushing back enough that Noble began trying to defer to the “experts” she
brought in, Talarico asked: If the bill’s intention is to preserve a document that is “foundational,” would she be open to including other influential and foundational documents in those classrooms, like the Code of Hammurabi or the Magna Carta?
As Noble clammed up, Talarico finished with a powerful statement:
I'll probably have more later but, and I say this to you as a fellow Christian representative, I know you're a devout Christian, and so am I. This bill to me is not only unconstitutional, it's not only un-American; I think it is also deeply un-Christian.
And I say that because I believe this bill is idolatrous. I believe it is exclusionary and I believe it is arrogant. And those three things in my reading of the Gospel are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus. You probably know Matthew 6:5 when Jesus says, “Don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners. When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret.”
A religion that has to force people to put up a poster to prove its legitimacy is a dead religion. And it's not one that I want to be a part of. It's not one that I think I am a part of.
You know that in Scripture, it says faith without works is what? Is dead. My concern is instead of bringing a bill that will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, we instead mandate that people put up a poster and we both follow a teacher, a rabbi who said, “Don't let the law get in the way of loving your neighbor.”
Loving your neighbor is the most important law. It is the summation of all the law and all the prophets. I would submit to you that our neighbor also includes the Hindu student who sits in a classroom, the Buddhist student who sits in a classroom, and an atheist student who sits in a classroom. And my question to you is, does this bill truly love those students?
There is no rebuttal to the truth.
Watch the whole thing here.