Florida lawmakers are fighting to pass a bill requiring all public schools have the words “In God We Trust” emblazoned in a “conspicuous place.”
A Florida House subcommittee unanimously backed the bill on Tuesday, arguing that the measure was imperative to ensure that all students were made aware of the state’s civic history, particularly the role that faith in God has played in its founding and subsequent development, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Democratic State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, the primary sponsor for the bill, argued that the phrase “In God We Trust” has historical value particular to Florida and therefore satisfies what constitutional lawyers call the purpose, history, context test, much like the Ten Commandments statue at the Texas State Capitol.
“The motto is inscribed on the wall of this great Capitol,” Daniels said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “It should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto which is a part of this country’s foundation.”
Daniels, who is also a pastor, ardently supported the 2017 Florida Student and Personnel Religious Liberties Act, which Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law.
That act ensures that Florida students have the right to pray or lead prayers and participate in or organize religious assemblies and student groups before, during and after school.
The act also protects the rights of school personnel to participate in religious activities lead by students.
The “In God We Trust” bill is yet to be titled. It will head next to the House Education Committee and will also go before the state senate.
Reps. Larry Lee Jr. and Ralph Massullo hailed the bill as a necessary step in not only Florida’s but the nation’s return to acknowledgement of God.
“We look at what has happened to a lot of our young people today,” Lee said, according to Tampa Bay Times. “We’re taking God out of everything. This country was built on God.”
The Tampa Bay Times tweeted a quote from Massullo where he points out that “It’s important for our students to realize the civic history of our state, and one portion of that history is the fact that we do trust in God.”
The bill sparked backlash from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and from Florida locals like Sue Woltanski, a known public school activist.
“They know what they’re doing,” AUSCS legislative director Maggie Garrett told Tampa Bay Times. “They’re saying it’s important, and we need to trust in God and we need to bring God back. … Those are really religious concepts and ideas, and it’s a religious purpose.”
Woltanski pointed out that Florida public schools already display “In God We Trust” on the state flag, and admonished Florida lawmakers to direct their efforts toward “real education issues.”
A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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