State by State, “In God We Trust,” Religion, brought into Public Schools. Government plays role of Church & Parents

When you consider the oft-repeated, slogan of “In God We Trust” do you think of a phrase written on the back of your currency, or displayed on your license plate or a phrase etched on government buildings, monuments and other public property especially in the United States? If you answered yes, that is because this phrase is the official motto of the United States (adopted in 1956).  Of course since the law was passed making this phrase the official motto of the country, there has been some opposition (not as much at its passing as in subsequent years) as some saw this law as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Interestingly, just six years after the bill was passed for the national motto, “in 1962 in Engel v. Vitale, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1962 New York statute that allowed public schools to hold short, non-denominational prayer in the morning before school. The Court decided that the prayer amounted to an ‘official stamp of approval’ of one particular set of religious beliefs in violation of the Establishment Clause, which states ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’”[1]


Today however, in the wake of the frequent occurrences of violence in public schools and the subsequent loss of lives many states are not only proposing but passing legislation that the phrase “In God We Trust” be conspicuously displayed in public schools throughout the state to deter perpetrators from carrying out acts of violence and prevent future outbreaks. But is it merely the phrase that lawmakers desire to bring in the schools or is the inculcation of Christian principles via prayer and education the real objective behind the push?  Additionally, there is also a strong urge among lawmakers for prayer and worship services to be introduced back into public schools to address the school shootings and other forms of violence. This simply means that the principles of the United States constitution are being repudiated thus removing the separation between church and state.  


Consider the following news headline and contents of the article, “Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Requiring Schools to Post ‘In God We Trust.’” “The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that would require that the U.S. motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ be posted on public school property in a prominent place for students to see each day.

The bill has been passed by both Houses of the legislature.”[2]  Such bills are not isolated to Tennessee alone. “Efforts similar to Tennessee’s new bill have been launched in Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Wyoming, and South Carolina.”[3]

 Regarding a Louisiana bill, the following is stated: “A bill unanimously advanced through the Senate Education Committee Thursday that would require each public school in Louisiana to display the national motto ‘In God We Trust.’ The bill, introduced by Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, would require each school district to display the national motto in each school by the 2019-20 school year. Barrow said she was motivated to propose the legislation after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ prayer breakfast last week. ‘We have an obligation to ensure students have that introduction because we cannot always assume that it’s necessarily happening at home,’ she said.”[4]


Barrow’s reasoning for introducing the bill is very telling.  She essentially is proposing that that the school districts assume the responsibility of parents in introducing religion or Christianity to children who may not be given religious instruction at home.  The motives for wanting “In God We Trust” displayed in schools throughout America are abundantly clear—to bring religious education in school, step by step. In this sense, the school would not only become the parent but also the church. Public schools are government funded and operated, therefore to do thus, would be to unite church and state.  Historian Alonzo Jones has the following to say regarding the union of church and state in the context of public schools.


“In the Homiletic Review for December, 1887, Philip Schaff…has an article on ‘The Connecting Links Between Church and State,’ and says that there are three of these links, namely, Marriage, Sunday, and the Public School. That is, these are the three links which form the union of Church and State in the United States.”[5] Let it be recalled that in 1888 a National Sunday Bill was put forward and was almost enforced.  Similar steps that led up to the proposal of the National Sunday law in past times are today being repeated. Jones continues, “The Christian Union of April 24, set forth a short catechism on the subject of religion and the public schools, with the purpose of getting the reader committed to the sanction of religious instruction by the State… For the State therefore, to undertake to make known righteousness to the children in school, or to anybody anywhere else, it would necessarily have to take charge of the gospel of Christ, and expound that as such to the people. This it is seen again would at once turn the State into a Church, and Church and State would be identical… Thus it is manifest that it is only by faith in Christ that righteousness can be obtained. Therefore for the State to inculcate righteousness, it would necessarily have to inculcate faith in Jesus Christ. This again would be but to turn the State into a Church. But if the State is to do this, what shall the Church do? If the State becomes the Church, then where shall the Church itself appear? More than this, when the gospel is preached to men and they receive it, there is another step to be taken. Christ said ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost… In order to manifest acceptable faith in him, it is essential that that person should be baptized, and thus further it is seen that, in order to inculcate righteousness, the State must become the Church, but such a thing as that is impossible; the State cannot become the Church, and as certain as it is that the State cannot become the Church, so certain it is that the State can never inculcate righteousness.”[6]


The movement to place God in schools, in the form of prayer and displaying the motto “In God We Trust” is a gaining ground, not on a national level yet, but rather state by state.  Uniting church and state in the public school sector and in other areas may not come on a national level at once, which would raise a lot more alarm, but will come state by state until it becomes national, just as with the legalization of gay marriages, which also began state-by-state.  From CBN News under the headline, “'In God We Trust' at School: Florida Lawmaker Aims to Make it Law:” “‘And so they need to see that symbol, and it needs to be imprinted in their minds and in their heart…‘Prayer is needed. It's absolutely needed,’ Goodhope said. ‘We have to have the spiritual side that made America great.’ The US Supreme Court ruled in 1962, that it is unconstitutional to have school-sponsored prayer in public schools. ‘We're asking other spiritual leaders to join us in our attempt to go forward and remove that law,’ Goodhope said. ‘We believe that the solution, the answer is prayers in our schools,’ said Dr. Marvin Duke, the founder and pastor of Chesapeake Christian Center.”[7]


When Mr. Goodhope states that having prayer in school and spiritual principles governing federal institutions and society at large are what made America great in times past, we can strongly infer that he is also referring to the times in which Sunday Blue Laws were in effect. The sentiment is that for America to be made great there must be a union between church and state.  While some may see this movement of bringing “God” and prayer in public schools as a good thing, we must understand where it is tending—to the complete unification of church and state, the complete renunciation of the U.S. constitution, the inevitable restriction of liberty of conscience and  finally persecution for those who do not go along with government-stipulated religious enactments.



[1] http://www.kalb.com/content/news/La-bill-to-require-In-God-We-Trust-be-displayed-in-public-schools--477783063.html


[2] http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/03/23/tennessee-senate-passes-bill-requiring-schools-post-god-trust/


[3] Ibid


[4] http://www.kalb.com/content/news/La-bill-to-require-In-God-We-Trust-be-displayed-in-public-schools--477783063.html


[5] The American Sentinel 3 (April, 1888), page 27.  “Connecting Links Between Church and State,” Alonzo, T. Jones


[6] The American Sentinel 5 (May 22, 1890), page 161.  “Connecting Links Between Church and State,” Alonzo, T. Jones


[7] http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2018/february/in-god-we-trust-at-school-florida-moves-to-make-it-law



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