In advance of the public hearing in May 2, 2023 by the Texas House Public Education Committee on SB1515, the Hindu American Foundation submitted the following comment:
“The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is opposing SB 1515, which mandates the display of the Ten Commandments in public K-12 classrooms. This type of mandate expressly privileges the Judeo-Christian religious tradition over other religions, a direct violation of the First Amendment guarantee against the establishment of any religion.
It also infringes on the religious freedom of students who believe in other religious traditions such as Hinduism, as they are being faced with a direct governmental endorsement of the Judeo-Christian tradition.The religious precepts that would be on display vary significantly from non-Judeo-Christian concepts regarding the nature of God and the relationship between man and God.
As a result, public display of the Ten Commandments in school classrooms would imply the social exclusion of non-Judeo-Christian religions, including Hinduism. Hindu students, along with students who believe in other non-Judeo-Christian religions or no religion at all, would in effect be told that they are not welcome in their classrooms and schools, which is antithetical to the purpose of those classrooms and schools.
Given the special vulnerability of students and power dynamics with the school, administration, and teachers, these excluded students would be unlikely to express anything about their own faith in any classroom discussion, and thus would be denied their religious liberty. HAF urges the members of this committee to vote down this bill and keep Texas schools welcome to students of all faiths.”