In 2001, shortly after 9/11, the Republican-controlled Virginia legislature passed a bill saying that all public schools had to put the statement “In God We Trust” somewhere where everyone could see it. They didn’t even refer to it as the “national motto” until later versions of the bill, which suggests this was all about pushing religion in the schools and had little to do with patriotism.
In Isle of Wight, school district officials say they were unaware of the legislation. (Like many bills that push religion in schools, the politicians don’t really care about enforcement; they just want to be able to say to voters that they were able to pass the legislation.) But they’re aware of it now. They received a donation of signs from a local Veterans of Foreign Wars and plan to put them up when the school year begins:
Gotta love that fine print, right?
IN GOD WE TRUST*
(*We swear this is purely patriotic.)
Even the Republican who sponsored the bill, Bob Marshall, says:
… the bill was drafted out of a feeling of patriotism following the Sept. 11 attacks and in response to instances of religious images, like the Ten Commandments, being removed from public property around the nation.
It’s the same sort of 1950s-style reasoning that led to “Under God” being inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” being placed on our currency. It’s unnecessary and just another way politicians try to merge church and state under the guise of unity.
The ACLU understands that:
Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said posting the motto in schools is different from, for example, printing “In God We Trust” on money or posting it in courtrooms, because of the environment.
“Children may be unaware of the context and read the motto differently than adults and not understand its meaning outside of the religious context,” she said.
This sign sure as hell won’t help them see anything but a religious context.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)