As public schools rot and decay, both literally and morally, some state lawmakers are looking to turn the tide.
In South Dakota, a new law now requires that all public schools in the state to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” within their walls. Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed the bill into law in March, and it is set to go into effect during the 2019-2020 school year.
According to the law, the motto must be displayed in “prominent locations” within school buildings, which may include entryways, cafeterias, or other common areas where students are “most likely” to see it.
The law also requires that the motto must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches in size and easily readable. The phrase may be featured on a mounted plaque, in student artwork, or any other appropriate form at each school principal’s discretion.
“Some have plaques. Others have it painted on the wall, maybe in a mural setting,” Wade Pogany, executive director of associated school boards of South Dakota, said in a statement to Fox News. One school opted to feature the motto on its “freedom wall as a patriotic theme,” Pogany said.
“As soon as we heard that it was going to be a state law … we started looking at different options and we chose to do stenciling as it is the most uniform and most affordable option,” Katy Urban, the Rapid City Area Schools community relations manager, told NPR.
Although most South Dakotans think “it’s a really great thing for our schools and our districts and that kids are seeing it posted on a daily basis,” Urban said, a bill like this in a God-hating postmodern culture like ours is sure to have its critics.
According to Urban, the community is fairly conservative, but she has seen threats of a lawsuit on social media, with the claim the motto excludes non-Christian faiths.
A group of Stevens High School students in Rapid City approached the school board earlier this summer, suggesting alternating “God” with other words on the signs for the purpose of being more inclusive. The suggested words included Buddha, Yahweh and Allah, along with others, such as “Science” and even “Ourselves.”
“I think that’s a really foundational element of American society, is that we are a cultural melting pot and it is really important that we make all people who come to America to feel welcome and to be more in accordance with the First Amendment since we all have the freedom of religion,” Stevens High student Abigail Ryan told the local ABC affiliate.
Wouldn’t “Buddha, Yahweh, and Allah” be even more exclusive of students who believe in a deity not included on that list? How nonsensical. Fortunately, the school board did not act on the students’ asinine request and proceeded with its original plan to follow the law.
While the state will not provide any funding for schools to display the motto in the manner they choose, the law does guarantee that the state attorney general will represent any school or district pro bono and cover any expenses for any litigation-related protests the displays may trigger.
As of last week, the state attorney general’s office reported to NPR that no lawsuits have yet been filed, but it may only be a matter of time.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based atheist watchdog group whose mission is to eradicate even the most benign, generic expressions of faith from the public square, didn’t let the bill pass without a hefty dose of kicking and screaming.
“Our position is that it’s a terrible violation of freedom of conscience to inflict a godly message on a captive audience of schoolchildren,” said FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor.
At least six other states (Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Arizona) have passed similar legislation requiring or allowing public schools to post the U.S. motto within the last few years, much to FFRF’s dismay. Indiana legislators are considering a bill that would have “In God We Trust” posters displayed in public school classrooms in public schools.
According to the U.S. Treasury Department, “In God We Trust” first appeared on U.S. coins primarily because of “increased religious sentiment” during the Civil War, but the phrase became enshrined in secular life and law when it was declared the official U.S. motto in 1956.
In spite of FFRF’s squawking, the motto has withstood several legal attempts at removal as recently as June, when the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that sought removal of the motto from all U.S. coins and bills.
Lord help us if this nation ever forgets that every single right and freedom we are afforded here is given to us by God’s blessing!
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