In what is sure to cause renewed debate into how far is too far for public displays of religion, one Tennessee bill is pushing those boundaries for public schools.
According to Fox News, the bill would require public schools throughout the Volunteer State to display the motto “In God We Trust” somewhere on their grounds where it can easily be seen.
Though not yet signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, the bill has already passed both Republican-led chambers of the legislature.
The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, was quickly met with backlash over whether or not it’s legal for Tennessee to seemingly endorse a religious point of view.
However, Lynn argued that both “faithless people” and “people of other faiths” shouldn’t be bothered by the proposed bill, as she pointed out that the U.S. was, in many ways, founded on sentiments similar to the one seen in the motto.
“Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem,” Lynn argued.
“Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom and we should teach our children about these things,” she added.
The motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on the two-cent piece in 1864, nearly a year before the Civil War would come to an end.
It wasn’t until 1956 that a law declaring the motto be placed on all U.S. currency was passed thanks to a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress, with then-President Dwight Eisenhower approving it. Since 1957, the motto has appeared on all paper currency in the U.S.
According to the Tennessean, bills such as the one championed by Lynn and other Republican lawmakers are proposed periodically, effectively pitting conservative Christian groups against secular activists and those who argue in favor of the separation of church and state.
Many took to social media to display their approval or disagreement with the bill. Some agreed with Lynn, but others called out what they saw as a forceful display of religion and waste of resources.
YES! The Only Real Forgiven Trust.
— Carol Wheat (@CarolWheat3) March 21, 2018
— caveman shree, MD (@ShreeMulay) March 23, 2018
Why is this necessary? We should be concerned with honoring God with our words and actions, not with empty slogans and mottos. And I also agree it is a slippery slope.
— Pastor Montagne McDonald (@pastormontmc) March 22, 2018
Although I like the intent, I do not like the slope. Seems like a bunch of tax $ that will go to pay court costs and the fees of attorneys. Maybe we should be vetting our public schools for legal citizens instead. Conservative legislature and conservative gov, au contraire.
— Get Off My Lawn Said (@mike_ferri) March 22, 2018
Though Haslam has not yet revealed whether he will sign the bill or not, he did say that he has “never been one that thought that having a motto somewhere changes a lot of people’s thoughts.”
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