Kentucky public elementary and secondary schools would be required to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in a prominent location under a bill that state Rep. Brandon Reed has pre-filed for the 2019 General Assembly.
Reed, R-Hodgenville, said in a statement Tuesday that BR 159 defines “prominent location” as a school entry way, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the motto. The move comes following the passage of similar laws in other states, including Tennessee where the measure passed in both the State Senate and House, he said. News reports say Florida has a similar law.
Reed said “In God We Trust” has served as America’s national motto since 1956, and is featured on money, license plates, and a variety of other platforms.
“There is no reason for us to be ashamed of our national motto; it is a vital part of our culture,” said Representative Reed, an evangelist from Larue County. “We are one nation under God, and that reality should be reflected in public life, including in the buildings where our children are being educated.”
Under the bill, the display can take the form of a mounted plaque or student artwork, but is not limited to those items.
“In a time of rampant drug use, increasing school violence, and mounting cases of suicide among our youth, we need God in our schools now more than ever,” Reed added. If passed in the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, local school boards would be required to implement the measure beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
In response, Kate Miller, ACLU-KY Advocacy Director, said that group will oppose the measure in the 2019 General Assembly and “we’ll likely be joined, once again, by religious leaders who agree that religion is best left to parents and churches, not school and government.”
“As seems to be an annual tradition in Kentucky, a politician is using his official position in an attempt to enshrine his personal religious beliefs into law,” Miller said. “The most basic way to respect Kentuckians’ right to religious freedom is for government officials to stop promoting religious ideals, beliefs, texts, and prayers in our public schools.“
“Time and time again we’ve seen students who practice a different religious tradition, or no religion at all, be made to feel like outsiders in their own school community because they don’t share the dominant religious view. Our public schools are spaces that should be welcoming to all,” Miller said.