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If House bill 3817 gets passed, Oklahoma could soon have the motto "In God We Trust" displayed in every state building. Republican lawmakers are trying to push this bill while there are some atheist groups that oppose it fiercely. Even though the bill by House Speaker Charles McCall has advanced in the House Rules Committee and it heads to the full House floor where it will probably be signed into law, taking effect on the first of November. As a result of this bill, displaying the motto sign in all 342 state buildings would cost taxpayers more than 85 thousand dollars, according to fiscal analysis.
While there is a statement in the bill that it isn't meant to promote any particular religion or denomination over others the motto "In God We Trust" is a promotion of Christianity. Displaying it in all state buildings is completely unnecessary and many atheists are against it. One of the atheist groups that oppose the bill is the American Atheists and their Oklahoma State director, Tim Ward. Ward released a statement explaining that besides atheists, the sign is also contradictory with polytheistic religions. “It sends the harmful message to atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus and other polytheists that they are unwelcome in Oklahoma," said Ward, as Fox News reports.
Besides this the bill is opposite to the constitutional rule of separation between state and church. Displaying a religious motto in state buildings should not be done in a country where state and church are separated but in the US; this separation is often seriously undermined. For example, the phrase "In God We Trust" is still on the money since 1950s. This is one of the examples that Rep. Jay Steagall used in order to back up the bill. “Our government is based on the idea that our inalienable rights are granted to us by our creator,” said Rep. Steagall, according to Patheos. “It is impossible to separate church from state. And our founders said we should not do that, actually.” The proof, he said, was on the money in everyone’s pockets and purses.
The phrase is on the money because politicians back then wanted to promote Christianity just like today's politicians and it would be better to reconsider why this phrase is still on the money. It began as part of the Cold War cultural war on godless communism; a 1955 congressional vote elected to place the motto on all U.S. money. State and church should and could be separated but obviously there is lack of will among the highest state officials to do anything about it. Atheist groups are trying but sometimes there is nothing that can be done because decision making is in other hands.