Faith

Tennessee Schools Must Include ‘In God We Trust’ Signs This Year

When Tennessee students return to the classroom this year, they’re likely to notice a new message: ‘In God We Trust.’

Thanks to a new law passed earlier this year, the national motto, “In God We Trust,” must be posted prominently in state schools.

Republican Rep. Susan Lynn sponsored the National Motto Act, which passed overwhelmingly in March, and recently said this: “Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem. Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom, and we should teach our children about these things.”

Schools must display the motto in a “prominent location” such as an entry, cafeteria or common area. 

Different school districts are coming up with uniform imagery schools can display but individual schools may have some liberty to go out on their own when it comes to creativity. The bill’s language says the motto can take the form of a mounted plaque or even student artwork. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that some Christian parents are strongly supportive of the notion of having the motto on display in schools.

Some parents — both Christian and non-Christian — have raised concerns about the idea, some saying that it’s not right to display a message that applies to some religions and not all, though a reference to “God” does not imply a specific denomination.

Yes, it’s our motto, and it’s on a variety of places.

One should ask, I think, whether this bill was put in place just to keep the motto in a variety of places or because of some desire for proselytizing. And if it’s the latter, how is that supposed to pull people closer to God or turn them Christian? If that dollar bill — or nickel or dime, for that matter — they’ve been carrying around in their pocket all this time hasn’t done it, what’s posting in a school supposed to accomplish?

One other thing worth keeping in mind: many of the people who’d support such a posting on religious grounds are the same kind of people who make the ridiculous claim that we’ve “kicked God out” of schools because of legislation that prohibits state-sponsored corporate prayer.  (As if we are so powerful and God is so weak as to suddenly not be everywhere just because of a law that bans forced group prayer!)

To all of the people who see this as some sort of reversal of this “evil” policy, to all of the people who’ve presented God’s “forced absence” from schools as an explanation for school violence, I have to ask this: what will your answer be if violence of any kind happens inside a Tennessee school after God is brought back into those buildings?

Granted, I hope there’s zero violence there: wouldn’t that be wonderful?

But if that miracle doesn’t happen, how are we going to explain it from a God-presence point of view?

Personally, I wish we could spend more time creating laws that solve actual problems and having debates that actually inform citizens so they’ll make the world a better place.

I’ve read, for example, that there are some school districts in which there’s such poverty that the free lunches students receive might be the only substantial meal they have all day. During summer vacation, some of these students lose that sole substantial meal.

Why can’t our lawmakers solve problems like that instead of mandating a national motto be displayed in schools?

A recent study found that 94% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies for their classrooms because there’s no other money available to use for that purpose. I’m not sure how much it’s costing the various districts to assemble materials for signs proclaiming “In God We Trust,” but if we can find funds to cover this, couldn’t we find funds to assist our already-underpaid educators?

I think that would go a lot further than a poster in a school hallway.

But maybe that’s me.

Do you support the ‘In God We Trust’ signs being posted in every school? Why or why not?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.