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Posting 'In God We Trust' in Public Schools Sweeps Through State Legislatures

in god we trust sign outside church

Minnesota Sen. Dan Hall doesn’t think it will be a “cure-all” to restore what he sees as a lack of “respect or appreciation” for the nation’s history, police and even parents. But allowing local schools to post the words “In God We Trust,” the Republican said, would be a good start.

So, he tacked an amendment onto an education funding bill May 1 that allows public school boards to prominently display the nation’s motto “In God We Trust” in their classrooms, offices, and other facilities, and find nonpublic funding to pay for it.

“This legislation simply makes it clear that putting up our National Motto on the walls of our schools is no different than saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the schools,” Hall, a former police and fire chaplain, said.

"It seems like God and country are no longer lifted in places of honor,” Hall said. “Too often God and country are seen as subjects of jokes or ridicule.”

If the state House approves the education funding package, with the amendment intact, Minnesota would not be the first state to allow educators to post “In God We Trust” in classrooms and other school facilities.

A new Florida law takes effect July 1 that goes beyond what the Minnesota Senate approved. Under the Sunshine State’s new law, public schools would be required to display the motto in all of their buildings “in a conspicuous place.”

State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation in Florida, said she did so partly in response to the February Parkland school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people.

"When we remove God," Daniels said, "we remove hope."

Legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee approved similar legislation this year.

Louisiana lawmakers sent “In God We Trust” legislation to a Senate committee in April.

“This country was definitely built on a Christian foundation,” said Sen. Regina Barrow (D), who sponsored the legislation in Louisiana. “That’s one of the things that I think our forefathers never wanted us to lose sight of.”

Frederick Clarkson, a senior policy analyst at the self-described social justice think tank Political Research Associates, said Hall’s legislation, like the rest, is just one more knock-off of model legislation written as part of an effort called “Project Blitz.”

Clarkson wrote in Religion Dispatches that the intent of Project Blitz is to do for the Christian right what the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) did for pro-business groups.

“The bills are seemingly unrelated and range widely in content—from requiring public schools to display the national motto ‘In God We Trust’ to legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people; to religious exemptions regarding women’s reproductive health,” Clarkson wrote.

“Project Blitz brings something new and dramatic to the Christian Right as it continues to mature as a political movement,” Clarkson added.