Politicians in the state of Tennessee are a step away from passing a bill that would force public schools to display “In God We Trust” in a “prominent location” where it will be seen by students.
Senate Bill 2661 sailed through both chambers of the legislature this month, and the “National Motto in the Classroom Act” will now go to Republican Governor Bill Haslam for a signature.
GOP State Rep. Susan Lynn introduced the legislation in February, and it is just one of many similar bills springing up all around the country.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, overwhelmingly passed the state House on Monday with 81 of the 99 members voting in favor of it. Before the vote, the Republican lawmaker spoke from the House floor about the prominence of the phrase.
“Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem,” Lynn said. “Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom and we should teach our children about these things.”
“In God We Trust” bills, like those calling to add the motto to license plates and require the posting of it in public buildings, periodically crop up in legislatures across the U.S. These proposed statutes tend to pit Republicans and conservative Christians against secular activists and supporters of the separation of church and state.
The Supreme Court has consistently held that these types of faith-based bills and laws aren’t illegal, because they’re ostensibly just restating the country’s motto and also because the motto itself was found not to endorse a specific religion. Despite those facts, it’s pretty clear that the intention here (and everywhere) is to promote the Christian faith.
In announcing the bill, Lynn noted that “In God We Trust” has been the official motto of the U.S. since 1956. She neglected to mention, however, that the U.S. government made “In God We Trust” our nation’s motto as a way to increase religious sentiment in a time of conflict.
Lynn also pointed to President Donald Trump, whom she said “reminded the nation’s lawmakers and all citizens that the foundation of American life is faith and family, not government and bureaucracy.”
And who knows more about religion and family than a thrice-married man who knows next to nothing about his own faith? That’s not to mention that he wants to ban refugees, grabs women by their pussies, and pays porn stars to shut up about their affairs.
This bill will almost certainly be signed into law. But it’s not going to help anyone. Leave it to Tennessee lawmakers to ignore real issues while focusing on a symbolic victory for the Religious Right.