Kentucky has joined several other states in passing legislation requiring schools to display the U.S. national motto “In God We Trust.” Kentucky’s state legislature passed the measure in March, Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed it into law, and with the beginning of this school year students across the state will be greeted by the phrase, thanks to the measure which mandates that “local boards shall require each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto of the United States, ‘In God We Trust,’ in a prominent location in the school.”
The Lexington Herald Leader newspaper reported that school districts across Kentucky are hard at work placing the motto in prominent spots in school facilities. And while thus far the secular-atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation has been silent on the Kentucky law, that state’s franchise of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to the legislature before the measure’s passage insisting that lawmakers “refrain from mandating any religious observation or exercise of religion in our public schools.”
In a public letter ACLU attorneys wrote: “We firmly believe that our legislature should be working to ensure that schools are adequately funded, that teachers are appropriately compensated, and that our students receive the highest quality education possible. To do right by our students, these should be our priorities — not mandating that every school in the Commonwealth display a motto that has the appearance of endorsing religion.”
Up to now, the ACLU has decided that it is not worth diving into a full-blown legal fight with the state against the new law. However, the group invited parents and students “who feel like their rights have been violated or have questions or concerns about the implantation of the ‘In God We Trust’ motto law” to contact the ACLU’s Kentucky office.
According to ChristianHeadlines.com, the recent uptick in legislation requiring schools to prominently display “In God We Trust” was most likely influenced by a study entitled Report and Analysis on Religious Freedom Measures Impacting Prayer and Faith in America. “The report, put together by pro-religious groups, encourages lawmakers that ‘states can and must play a crucial role in protecting religious freedom,’” reported the Christian news site.
As reported previously by The New American, South Dakota passed similar legislation in March, requiring schools in the state to display the motto “In God We Trust.” According to a report by National Public Radio, “within the last couple of years, six Southern states — Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and Arizona — have approved similar legislation, enforcing or allowing public schools to post the U.S. motto.”
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