‘Very Much From a Historical Vantage Point’: Lawmakers Debate Bill Mandating Ten Commandments in Public School Classrooms
KOKH - January 3, 2024 6:50 am
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KOKH) — On Monday, FOX 25 got new insight into a bill that would require public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments should it become law.
In an interview with State Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) asserted his legislation underscored the Ten Commandments’ historical significance in the United States and public education.
However, House Bill 2962 is already causing fierce debate before lawmakers are even back at the Oklahoma State Capitol for the legislative session.
State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City) called the proposal unconstitutional and exclusionary—and likened it to a manifestation of “Christian nationalism” in response to the Republican’s statements.
“It’s just an attempt that the Right uses to continue to alienate people and create an us versus them… society,” he argued.
On the other hand, Rep. Olsen noted the Ten Commandments are foundational to the United States legal system. In his view, students need to familiarize themselves with them.
“We look to the Constitution. We look to the Declaration of Independence. And, if we’re going to be honest with our history, we look to the Ten Commandments as well. So it’s very much from a historical vantage point,” he added.
Rep. Dollens shared the Republican should focus on other issues that, in his view, are more pressing.
According to the Democrat, “It said in the Bible that ‘faith without works is dead.’ And in this case, the author has failed to introduce any legislation that addresses hungry kids, adverse childhood experiences, [or] poverty.”
Rep. Olsen countered, explaining that from early American educational textbooks like the New England Primer to the McGuffey Readers, instruction in the Ten Commandments has a long history in the United States.
Rep. Olsen said the Constitution was on his side.
“We just have a better life together if we abide by that ethical code of conduct,” he explained.
The introduced version of the bill does not have a sponsor in the Oklahoma Senate.
The upcoming legislative session starts on Feb. 5.