Louisiana’s New “In God We Trust” Law Puts Public Schools in the Middle of the Separation of Church and State Debate

Louisiana has ignited a nationwide conversation with its latest move as a new law comes into effect, mandating that every public school in the state display the national motto “In God We Trust.” 

Every School Must Display the Motto “In God We Trust”

Championed by Republican Rep. Dodie Horton and signed into action by Gov. John Bel Edwards, this law aims to serve as a poignant reminder of the nation’s spiritual heritage.

Under House Bill 8 (HB8), each public school system governing authority is now required to prominently display the national motto in every building and classroom within its jurisdiction. 

The law outlines specific guidelines for the display, emphasizing that the motto should be central, printed in a large, easily readable font, and presented on a poster or framed document measuring at least eleven inches by fourteen inches.

Critically, Louisiana’s government has clarified that financial resources need not be diverted from educational priorities to fulfill this requirement. 

The Law Has Sparked Debates

Schools have the flexibility to use donated funds or displays for this purpose, alleviating concerns about potential financial strains.

While “In God We Trust” officially became the American national motto in 1956, with approval from the 84th Congress and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Louisiana joins a cohort of states that have reaffirmed the motto’s significance in a public setting. 

This includes states like Florida, Arkansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Texas, all of which have mandated similar displays of national values.

The law has sparked debates about the role of religion in public institutions. 

Imposing Religious Values on a Diverse Population

Anti-religious groups contend that such displays infringe upon the beliefs of individuals who do not align with the spiritual connotations of the motto.

They argue that its usage can be perceived as imposing religious values on a diverse population.

Proponents of the law emphasize that its intent is not to force religious beliefs onto anyone. 

Senator Regina Barrow, a Democrat from Baton Rouge and author of a related 2018 bill, clarifies, “We’re not pushing God on anybody. We’re incorporating it as part of the history of our nation.” 

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Source: Legis LA