The Ten Commitments: Guiding Principles for Teaching Values in Public Schools
Despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1980 that declared posting the Ten Commandments in public schools unconstitutional (Stone v. Graham), attempts to violate the law are still rampant. The New Kensington-Arnold School District in Pennsylvania is being sued for a Ten Commandments monument on school property. In Giles County, Virginia, school administrators recently decided to stop their legal battle to keep the Ten Commandments on a wall in a public high school there. And in other places the Decalogue remains unchallenged.
It is a common assertion among many proponents of displaying the Ten Commandments in schools or on other government property that their motivations aren't religious. They claim that America's legal system is based on these ancient Hebrew tenets (from which they have to choose a version) and that displaying them would be the same as displaying any other historical manuscript. Of course, such claims are easily shown to be sham reasoning, since promotion of their particular religion is their true aim and the Ten Commandments have very little to do with our English Common Law-based legal system.
Some parents lament that their children will somehow end up morally aimless if they aren't exposed to the Ten Commandments while attending school. While moral development is really a natural process of learning right and wrong for which religion is unnecessary, there is an opportunity for character development in public schools that shouldn't be ignored. In order to address this very question, the American Humanist Association's Kochhar Humanist Education Center has developed The 10 Commitments: Guiding Principles for Teaching Values in America's Public Schools. These ten values are a useful tool for guiding character development that respects the diversity of thought in this country—religious or otherwise.
To read the rest of this Patheos article from AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, click here.