An interesting thing for a secular state such as the United States is certainly its motto "In God We Trust" that appears on bills, police cars, in courts, etc. Advocates of separation of church and state have questioned the legality of this motto, asserting that it is a violation of the United States Constitution, prohibiting the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of religion. Courts have generally held that government displays of “In God We Trust” are not violations of church/state separation because it’s “tradition” and because “deism” and theism aren’t technically religions in themselves.
This motto will be displayed in every Florida school and school administrative building if the bill, which was introduced by a Democrat and being supported by both Democrats and Republicans, is enacted.
Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels said her bill will be a lesson to children about the national and state motto that’s printed on currency and included in the state flag.
The bill received unanimous approval Tuesday from the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee. Democrats and Republicans praised the idea.
Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo said students should know about the state’s history, and as part of that history, “we do trust in God.”
Miami Herald reports that democratic Rep. Larry Lee said the nation was “built on God” and the bill is a great idea at a time when many young people aren’t going to church. Lee added, “We’re taking God out of everything.”
The bill's primary sponsor is Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Duval County Democrat who last year spearheaded the "religious expression in public schools" legislation that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law.
Daniels, a pastor who founded Kimberly Daniels Ministries International, presented her bill as in keeping with Florida's history. She noted that the phrase "In God We Trust" first appeared on a two-cent piece in 1864, and was placed on paper currency in 1957.
"The motto is inscribed on the wall of this great Capitol," she added. "It should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto which is a part of this country's foundation."
There are also criticisms of this law by the supporters of the separation of the state and the church. Maggie Garrett, legislative director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, meanwhile cautioned that lawmakers best think twice about this proposal. For while they profess that it's about the state motto, their comments say otherwise. "They know what they're doing," Garrett said. "They're saying it's important, and we need to trust in God and we need to bring God back. … Those are really religious concepts and ideas, and it's a religious purpose."
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