Religion and the Law

Mandatory 'In God We Trust' Signs Greet Florida Students at Start of School Year

Thanks to legislation that passed in March, all Florida public schools must display "In God We Trust" signage in "a conspicuous place."

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Ahturner/Dreamstime.com

If they haven't already, students in Florida are heading back to school soon. When they do, they might notice something a little bit different.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a law in March that requires all public schools to feature signage with the words "In God We Trust," which is the state's official motto. The "In God We Trust" measure was part of a larger 207-page education bill, which first passed both houses of the state legislature.

"Each district school board shall adopt rules to require, in all of the schools of the district and in each building used by the district school board, the display of the state motto, 'In God We Trust,' the relevant portion of the bill reads, adding that the motto must be displayed in "a conspicuous place."

State Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D–14), who leads a Christian ministry, introduced the measure, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "This motto is inscribed on the halls of this great capitol and inked on our currency, and it should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto, which is a part of this country's foundation," she said when a House committee took up her measure. "Something so great should not be hidden."

Florida's Department of State says that "In God We Trust" has been the state's motto since 2006. That means it's already on the state seal, which is imprinted on Florida's flag. But having a state flag on campus might not be enough. State Rep. Mel Ponder (D–4), who cosponsored the measure, said the motto on the flag may not be clearly visible, depending on how the flag is positioned.

In the lead-up to the new academic year, school superintendents were distributing the required signage to the schools in their districts. As the Northwest Florida Daily News notes, there are about 4,000 public schools in the state.

But some parents aren't huge fans of the new requirement. "Spending time on this is ridiculous," Leon High School parent Beth Overholt told WTXL earlier this month. "The flag is up at every single school. That's all, we can just put it up, it's on the flag, let's move on." Sue Woltanski of Monroe County, who is part of the education advocacy organization Common Ground, agrees. Measures like these "fail to address real issues in education and waste taxpayers' dollars and time," she told the Sentinel in March.

Though some argue that requiring schools to display "In God We Trust" violates the separation of church and state, the courts have disagreed. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 1970:

It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency "In God We Trust" has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.

And just this past May, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that putting the motto on currency does not amount to a religious endorsement.

Florida isn't the only state to require that "In God We Trust" be displayed in every public school. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) approved a similar measure in March. And some public school officials in Alabama are pushing for the motto to be displayed on campuses there as well.

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  1. Good idea. Who else is going to protect the students from the next ‘overlooked student’ nut job?

    1. The Inquisition?

      1. What a show!

      2. Nah … we have top men to identify kids with dangerous beliefs and provide them with the appropriate treatments to cure their souls.

  2. Any government entity declaring “In God We Trust” is a bloody lie.

    1. Literally.

  3. Democrats will be the Party of Socialists and Communists.

    The GOP will be the Party of religious Nanny and Police Staters.

    The Libertarians will be for maximum freedoms under the Constitution, free market, and small/limited government.

    1. State Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D?14), who leads a Christian ministry, introduced the measure

      Just saying.

      1. She seems…interesting.
        http://floridapolitics.com/arc…..s-marriage

  4. “This motto is inscribed on the halls of this great capitol and inked on our currency, and it should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto, which is a part of this country’s foundation,” she said when a House committee took up her measure. “Something so great should not be hidden.”

    Remember this when they try to tell you it’s meaningless that it’s all over US fiat currency.

  5. Religious pandering, always a hallmark of politicians who are getting things done.

      1. Goddamn hippies cross wherever they want so why bother.

      2. Poor Ed Murray. The old gay mayor, he ain’t what he used to be.

        1. I think his primary problem is he is what he’s always been.

        2. That was an amusing joke.

    1. There isn’t a politician in Florida not willing to gobble the cock of their creator for a few votes.

        1. Maybe God is Trans-Cis.

      1. I guess that’s why my mom never went into politics. She hated the idea of praying to a man.

  6. >>>Measures like these “fail to address real issues in education…”

    cuts into the graft.

    1. To be fair, most measures “fail to address real issues in education and waste taxpayers’ dollars and time”. This is but one of many, and relatively inexpensive.

      1. >>>most measures…

        agreed. all graft.

  7. This is an example of where the pro-sign and anti-sign people deserve each other. Get a life!

    Instead of wasting everyone’s time with this crap (one way or the other), why not actually do something to help someone?

  8. Slow news day? Who cares? Its on the money the kids use to buy lunch with too.

  9. What does that slogan even mean in terms of self-responsibility, electing leaders, or working hard? It makes no more sense than posting “Who is John Galt?” signs or “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

    1. It means they are going to follow New Orleans’ hurricane preparedness policies minus the phone call to DC asking for help.

  10. The dishonesty of these religious zealots should be illuminating to the flock. It is very clear, in spite of posturing otherwise, that these issues are pressed exclusively by evangelist Christians for evangelist reasons. Lying about why they are doing it seems so right. What better way to spread the truth but with lies?

  11. I’m thinking there is a connection between those who get all worked about this and the folks who have enough spare time to worry about Civil War monuments

    1. those who get all worked about this

      Something tells me you’re not using that phrase to refer to the people who went to the trouble of passing this law and installing signage all over the state.

    2. The Venn diagram would approach a single circle.

      1. Otherwise known as unwed cat lovers.

  12. To be fair and inclusive, they should also post pictures of Mohammed in the schools so the Muslims don’t feel left out.

    1. Now that I think about it, I’ll bet if you were to propose posting pictures of Mohammed in the schools, it wouldn’t be Muslims first to squawk, it would be Kimberly Daniels.

    2. that would be a specific religion, The courts like to pretend that “under God” could be any religion or no religion at all.

      1. Hail Satan!!

        1. Satan still sends his time sheets to heaven. They just moved him to the field office to be closer to the clients. It’s a good cop, bad cop thing.

  13. Better than “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here” or “Arbeit Macht Frei” I suppose.

    And on the lighter side of the news, legislators pass a bill requiring all obedience school entrances be inscribed “In Dog We Trust”. [Shows stock footage of puppies playing] Awwwwww.

    1. But if they don’t do enough homework assignments, they do have to go to summer school.

  14. It’s not religious… But all the folks that insist it be plastered on everything are religious activists. How does this convince anyone?

    That said, I have seen one use if “In God We Trust” on a seal/logo that I liked. The full thing was “in God we trust
    … All others we track”. And they say government workers don’t have a sense of humor.

    1. ‘In God We Trust…everyone else pays cash’

      1. Also acceptable.

      2. Sometimes, cash isn’t that great. And I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford to travel this winter. Thank heaven for unexpected events.

        1. Cash of less than $10k or another amount my bank decides might be suspect leads me to trusting God, even if he/she doesn’t exist.

  15. Stupid. This sort of crap is why we get retaliatory laws that force Christians to make wedding cakes for homosexuals.

    1. no it isn’t

    2. Not really comparable, and not it’s not the reason.

  16. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a law in March that requires all public schools to feature signage with the words “In God We Trust,” which is the state’s official motto.

    the fact that it’s the state’s official motto makes it seem less like a Christian caliphate took over

    1. Yeah, the Christian caliphate has been in charge for a while.

  17. Wait, democrat state senators introduced and co-sponsored the bill? I’m confused.

    1. They’re not all God-less commies, or at least don’t want to admit it publicly.

    2. Southern blacks tend to be religious.
      This one seems to have used religion for a pretty good grift.

  18. Hey, when you live in hurricane country, you don’t take any chances.

  19. “In God We Trust” has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of a patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.

    Trust is synonymous with faith (if both are used as nouns). Changing the wording without changing the meaning would yield “We Have Faith In God.” This is clearly a religious statement. Is it not?

  20. “In God We Trust” is on the currency because of the Civil War…the Treasury Secretary (Salmon Chase) had Presidential ambitions, and the war seemed like a good time to call on the North to return to God…

    But I don’t see a lot of improved piety from the slogan being put on currency. It’s more like social signaling from the government. Likewise with the school sign, I would be surprised if anyone gets any pious-er from seeing it.

  21. But removing prayer from schools caused Parkland to happen…

  22. Allah means God in Arabic. Does this mean that if someone were to ‘deface’ one of those signs to edit it, the Florida state government would be okay with it, since it’s a content-neutral alteration?

    1. “Section 9. English is the Official Language of Florida. (a) English is the official language of the state of Florida. (b) The Legislature shall have the power to enforce this section by appropriate legislation.”

      So you’d be changing it from the official language of Florida, and altering it without consent.

      Your thought experiment is stupid.

  23. In Delusion We Trust.

  24. Frankly, I don’t see how Christians can be in favor of this bill. It’s mixing God and Caesar. It’s not that mixing church and state might damage the state, it’s that mixing church and state invariably damages the church. Fundamentalists will understand this, but modern center-to-right Evangelicals are all about culture war posturing.

  25. It’s not stupid because Establishment. It’s stupid because it’s stupid.

  26. The signs in Miami schools will say “In G-d We Trust” thanks to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

  27. To say that to claim In god we trust in the ceilings of all schools is not religious is bullshit. We all know what god they are referring to. It is like claiming that to say the bald eagle is the american symbol is not about having eagles over other animals when it comes to national symbols.

  28. And all we need is someone to propose that alongside this is the slogan “Allahu Akbar”, and the Court will throw out this ridiculous law for the gross violation of the 1st Amendment that it is.

  29. Goddists are like gun-grabbers: they seek dominion over all the rest of us. Give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile, so we cannot give them an inch.

    We shall fight them on the beaches,
    we shall fight them on the landing grounds,
    we shall fight them in the fields and in the streets,
    we shall fight them in the hills.

  30. So someone will sue and ” In Satan we trust” will be there too. Only fair.

  31. At least their translation of Gott Mit Uns isn’t so bad, as NSDAP translations go.

  32. Looking at the beyond pitiful performance of government at all levels surrounding the Parkland shooting incident… God may be the only thing left kids can count on? Now we know why Bart had to write “I will not sell land in Florida…” on the board.

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