Louisiana just became the latest state to pass a law requiring public schools to display the United States’ national motto, “In God We Trust”, in their classrooms.
Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed HB 8 into law on June 26, with the rules on how the motto is to be displayed coming into effect this week.
The law requires all public school systems in Louisiana to display the motto “In God We Trust” in each building and classroom. The display needs to measure at least 11 inches by 14 inches, with the motto printed in easily readable font as the central focus.
Furthermore, the schools are not required to spend extra funds on the display. Instead, the law allows for donated signage or funds.
The law, which is part of a rising conservative movement to make the national motto more central to civic life, follows in line with other states such as Florida, Arkansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas. All have similar laws mandating the display of the national motto in public facilities.
The phrase “In God We Trust” appears most famously on all pieces of U.S. money. This spiritual nature of the phrase has been subject to legal action by some anti-religious activists who believe the official use of the phrase by the federal government injures citizens with different beliefs.
Yet no laws in states that mandate the display of the motto have been overturned to date.
This comes as a survey by the Pew Research Center from 2018 showed the majority of Americans – 68% of adults – said that religion was either “very important” or “somewhat important” in their lives.
That survey selection also included respondents who did not actively practice or identify with a religion. In the same survey, 76% of respondents said they were “absolutely certain” there is a God, or a higher power of some kind.
Meanwhile, some legal experts have argued that the national motto, “In God We Trust”, doesn’t favor one religion over another but instead celebrates a shared national spirituality.
For now, Louisianans will continue to observe their national motto in classrooms, alongside a variety of different religious beliefs practiced in the state.