Despite opposition from some members, the House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require public schools to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in a prominent location.
Under House Bill 46, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville, the motto would have to be displayed in public elementary and secondary Kentucky schools beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
The bill said the display may take the form of, but is not limited to, a mounted plaque or student artwork.
The bill defines “prominent location” as a school entry way, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the national motto.
Reed mentioned that Preston Cope, who was slain in the Marshall County High shooting last year, took a photo of the motto before he died as part of a project— apparently the last photo he ever took.
Reed read a note from Preston’s art teacher at the committee meeting.
“For those that did not know Preston, this picture showed who he was, what he believed, what was in his heart: ‘In God We Trust.’”
Florida and Tennessee are among states that have a similar law.
LaRue County Student Isaiah Pruitt asked the committee to pass the bill.
“As a student I would love to walk in every day and see ‘In God We Trust’ because it’s not a religious factor, it’s a national factor,” Isaiah said.
ACLU-KY officials have said they oppose the legislation because religion is best left to parents and churches, not school and government.
Rev. Jason Crosby, a Baptist minister from Louisville who said he was on the board of the ACLU, opposed the bill at the meeting.
He said the bill “sends a thinly veiled message that only students who believe in God are welcome at their school.”
State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian was among the lawmakers who voted against the bill.
“If I thought this would help stop violence, if it would help stop unkindness toward each other, I’d be all for it,” said Marzian, D-Louisville.
But Marzian said the motto was displayed in the House of Representatives “and it hasn’t stopped sexual harassment one bit in this Capitol.”
The legislation now goes to the full House.