Students in Tennessee will head back to school over the next few weeks, but their classrooms might look a little different. As a result of a newly introduced law, schools located in the state are required to display the “In God We Trust” motto in a prominent place.
The bill, signed into law in April, defined a prominent place as “school entry way, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the national motto.” The phrase “may take the form of, but is not limited to, a mounted plaque or student artwork,” the bill continues.
“‘In God We Trust’ is a guiding principal for our nation” -TN State Rep. Susan Lynn on newly-passed bill that requires the motto to be displayed in schools pic.twitter.com/gBeKHX3Zl3
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 25, 2018
The controversial piece of legislation was proposed by Republican Rep. Susan Lynn. “Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem,” she explained to The Tennessean. “Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom and we should teach our children about these things.”
The new law, which was approved by 81 of the 99 house members, reads as follows:
(a) Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, an LEA shall require all schools
within the LEA to display the national motto of the United States, “ln God We Trust,”
in a prominent location in each school.
(b) The display required in subsection (a) may take the form of, but is not
limited to, a mounted plaque or student artwork.
(c) For purposes of this section, “prominent location” means a school entry
way, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the national motto
K. Dawn Rutledge, the Metro Nashville Public Schools public information officer, told Knox News that her schools were doing everything in their power to comply with the new law in time for the start of this academic year. “All MNPS schools will be provided with information about this new legal requirement and we will be working to have this information posted in as many of our schools as possible in the new 2018-2019 school year,” she wrote in an email, adding that “entry ways, cafeterias or other common areas” would be the likely locations for the motto.
Rutledge added that an “In God We Trust” will be provided to schools who “need something to put up quickly.”
“Then the school can decide if they want to get the students involved in making one to the extent that is allowable,” she added. “We have a diverse student body with various beliefs, so it most certainly will not be mandatory.”
When WJHG-TV asked the Twitter community what it thought of a new Florida law, which also requires the display of “In God We Trust” in a “conspicuous place” on schools campuses, the responses were mixed.
“Citizens are given by God the free will to not worship or to worship whomever they want, “but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” You may choose either, but only one leads to eternal life,” one person replied.
Another commented simply: “We are not a theocracy.”
“A LAW requiring this???” another asked. “Always good to see our lawmakers using their time as productively as possible.”
The phrase “In God We Trust” was first stamped onto U.S. currency in 1864, and became the national motto in 1956.