Invoking God at a Stop the Steal rally in Raleigh (2020 Jan 6).
Source – Anthony Crider, CC SA 2.0.
Under a law passed last year, if a Texas school receives a donated poster of the national motto, it must be displayed in a “conspicuous place in each building of the school or institution.”
The bill, SB 797, was passed last year by the Texas legislature and states that campuses must display “a durable poster or framed copy of the United States national motto” in a “conspicuous place in each building of the school or institution.”
The law, which applies to K-12 and higher education schools, also requires that each poster have an American flag “centered under the motto” as well as the state flag of Texas.
State Rep. Tom Oliverson, one of the co-authors of the bill, told television station KHOU that it was a “great opportunity” to display the national motto at schools.
The law only applies if the posters are donated to the schools, but conservative groups like Patriot Mobile — which bills itself as a Christian wireless provider — have already begun donating the signs to schools in the state, Chron reported.
Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, another co-author, celebrated the bill with a Twitter post on Tuesday, saying that the national motto “asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God.”
So, all this has raised a few questions about the separation of church and state, forcing religion on our children, and the growing belief that Christianity is and should be intrinsically tied to American life and laws.
This last belief has taken hold with many people on the right, as well as many Republican lawmakers, according to Business Insider.
“Alone, they’re a basic violation of the separation of church and state. But in the broader context, it’s hard not to see them as part of the larger Christian nationalist project,” Sophie Ellman-Golan, director of strategic communications at Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, told The Guardian.
However, other religious groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the outlet that the posters could “foster discussions among Texas students about their various faiths and enhance understanding.”
What is the national motto of the United States?
In 1956, the modern motto of the United States of America – “In God we trust” – was established in a law signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Actually, going back further in History, the motto first appeared on coins in 1864.
Now keep in mind that the 1956 law established a motto for the country, as opposed to the motto for the Seal of the United States, E Pluribus Unum (“from many, one”) that was established by Congress in 1795.
But there was a reason for all the references to God and Christianity in the 1950s. There were the pressures of the Cold War and many in America were adamant about wanting the world to know the U.S. would not succumb to Communism.
The constitutionality of the modern national motto has been questioned in relation to the separation of church and state outlined in the First Amendment. In 1970, in Aronow v. the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the motto does not violate the First Amendment to the Constitution. The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue.
It should also be noted that Texas is not alone in allowing donated posters of the national motto to be displayed in schools. Readers may be surprised to learn there are at least 16 or more states that allow the motto to be displayed in classrooms.
These legislative initiatives over the past several years correspond with a recent advocacy push in state legislatures known colloquially as Project Blitz. This effort is led by such organizations as the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF) and the National Legal Foundation.
Project Blitz also champions Bible literacy courses in public schools and other issues in state legislatures in a stated effort to “recognize the place of Christian principles in our nation’s history and heritage.” The Project Blitz policy agenda had been laid out in a 2018-19 legislative report.
This journalist will leave it up to the reader to decide if they think allowing a national motto to be displayed in the classroom is legal, or not. Just be sure to look at all sides of the issue.