When Kentucky legislators begin meeting again next week, each subcommittee will gather in one of 11 rooms with new symbols hanging on the walls: The state seal adorned with the phrase “In God We Trust”:
[Sen. Albert] Robinson’s amendment said the motto would be displayed “behind each chairman or chairwoman in each committee room used by members of the General Assembly in the Capitol and Capitol Annex.”
Asked Monday why the signs are needed, Robinson said, “This is America. I feel like this nation was and is established by God.
“We need to show the same respect in the committee rooms that we show in the Senate and House chambers.”
Robinson has been involved in other issues involving religion. He has been active in posting the Ten Commandments as part of historical exhibits in public buildings. He is working on a “religious freedom” bill he plans to present in the 2015 legislative session.
Because the Christian phrase doubles as the National Motto, there’s very little chance for church/state separation groups to argue this is an endorsement of religion no matter what people like Robinson say.
“We just believe that government is supposed to represent everyone — the religious and non-religious,” said Rob Boston, communications director for the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“It has been difficult to get these signs removed in court challenges,” he said. “There seems to be a generality about all this with saying, ‘God,’ and providing a historic symbol with the motto.
“It would be easier to remove them if the signs were more specific, if they said ‘In Jesus Christ We Trust’ or ‘In Allah We Trust.'”
The biggest irony is all of this is that, if you look at the seal carefully, you’ll see Kentucky’s state motto on it: “United we stand, divided we fall.” And right above that now is a phrase that divides residents of Kentucky: There are the ones who believe in God — the ones who apparently matter to legislators — and the ones who don’t. Robinson and everyone else who voted for the godly addition don’t seem to notice the inherent contradiction there, or what that may foretell about the future of the state.