A new law requiring schools in Texas to display donated “In God We Trust” posters is the latest move by Republican lawmakers to bring Christianity into taxpayer-funded institutions.
Under the law, Senate Bill 797, passed during last year’s legislature, schools are required to display the posters if they are donated.
The law went into effect last year, but those posters didn’t appear at the time, as many school officials and parents were more concerned about new strains of COVID-19 and whether their local public school would even open for in-person classes.
The In God We Trust Act was authored by State Senator Bryan Hughes, the East Texas Republican who drafted Texas Senate Bill 8, which limited abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy beginning September 1, 2021. The abortion law adeptly sidestepped legal challenge by relying on the public rather than law enforcement to enforce it.
Hughes’ “In God We Trust” poster law is also precisely written. Texas public schools or colleges are required to display the national motto in a “prominent place” but only if the poster was “donated” or “acquired through private donations.”
After appearing at a Northwest Austin Republican Women’s Club event on Tuesday, Hughes touted the new law and commended the groups that agreed to donate the posters.
“The national motto In God We Trust affirms our collective trust in one sovereign God,” Hughes wrote on Twitter. “I’m encouraged to see groups like the Northwest (Austin) Republican Women and many individuals coming forward to donate these framed prints to help remind future generations of the national motto.”
Patriot Mobile, a Texas-based cellphone company that donates a portion of its customers’ phone bills to conservative, “Christian” causes, Monday donated several “In God We Trust” signs to all Carroll Independent School District campuses, claiming their “mission “. is to passionately defend our God-given constitutional rights and freedoms and always glorify God.”
“Patriot Mobile has donated framed posters to many other school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and we will continue to do so until all schools in the area receive them,” the company said in a Facebook post. “We are honored to be a part of bringing God back into our public schools!”
Carroll ISD includes Southlake, the predominantly white, affluent Dallas-Fort Worth suburb. The community’s struggles with a school diversity and inclusion plan — as well as how parents opposed to the plan started a political movement there — were the subject of a seven-part podcast released last year.
The Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition (SARC) said in a statement that it was not happy that the law required public schools to display the posters.
“SARC is concerned at the precedent that the hanging of these posters will set in every school and the chilling effect this blatant intrusion of religion into what is essentially a secular public institution will have on the student body, particularly those outside the dominant practice Christian faith. ‘ was the statement.
Donations from the “In God We Trust” posters also went to the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in the Houston area. The posters were a donation from The Yellow Rose of Texas Republican Women.
Moms for Liberty, a conservative nonprofit, donated posters for the Round Rock Independent School District campus, said Jenny Caputo, a spokeswoman for the district. Most campuses have the signs in a hallway near the front of each campus.
The Keller Independent School District in Tarrant County has received posters from a private individual for all of its facilities, and they’re being displayed primarily in front offices, said Bryce Nieman, a spokesman for Keller ISD.
Erik Leist, a Keller resident and father of a prospective preschooler, said the motto represents America’s founding and believes the law allows communities to do what they think is best.
“If the communities care, the community stands behind it,” Leist said. “If it’s not something the community appreciates, it’s not going to end up in school.”
Leist also said he sees it only as a nation’s motto and not as a push on any religion.
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The Yellow Rose of Texas Republican Women and the Northwest Austin Republican Women’s Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Texas Tribune reached out to Hughes, along with Aaron Rocha, Leigh Wambsganss and Scott Coburn with Patriot Mobile to discuss the Billboard Act. No one immediately responded to the Tribune’s request for comment.
In God we trust origins
In 1956, Congress passed a joint resolution making “In God We Trust” the nation’s motto, replacing “e pluribus unum” (one of many). The legislature did this in part to differentiate itself from the Soviet Union, which embraced atheism, during the Cold War.
The national motto “In God We Trust” is found on monies and government buildings and has proven bulletproof when it comes to legal challenges claiming that the reference to God could be construed as government-sponsored prayer that is itself impacting Americans First Amendment rights.
In a 1970 case, Aronow v. United States, a federal appeals court ruled, “It is quite evident that the national coin and currency motto and slogan ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of a religion. “
From motto to movement
During this century there has been a growing movement to place the motto in more visible government spaces.
Efforts to put “In God We Trust” on police cars, for example, have spread since 2015. There’s even a website, ingodwetrust.com, that explicitly states that the movement is about protecting citizens’ “first amendment right” to freedom of religion, a freedom threatened by any well-organized and well-funded effort to protect all Remove traces of God from the public domain in America.”
For Patriot Mobile, this is the company’s latest effort in its plan to “put Christian conservative values into action,” and it has targeted Texas public schools through its political action committee, Patriot Mobile Action.
Last spring and ahead of the school board election in May, the Patriot Mobile Action PAC raised more than $500,000 for conservative school board candidates across North Texas, including Carroll ISD.
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https://abc13.com/in-god-we-trust-posters-texas-public-schools-senate-bill-797-bryan-hughes/12142496/ Texas public schools are required to put up “In God We Trust” posters when donating under Senate Bill 797