You can find the phrase, “In God we trust” on all U.S. currency, and if Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-39th District, has his way, you’ll also be able to find it displayed in every public school in the state.
“In God we trust” first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, thanks to former Pennsylvania Governor James Pollack, who was the director of the U.S. Mint at the time. It became the national motto in 1956. But Saccone says it’s not getting the recognition it deserves.
“I find that many people don’t know our motto,” he said. “They’re confused, they don’t know what our national motto is, and certainly our children don’t.”
Saccone introduced House Bill 1728 earlier this month. It would require the words, “In God we trust” to be displayed in some form in every public school building in the state.
“Knowing our national motto and honoring it and having it put up, is also another way to develop patriotism and part of that civics lesson that we should teach our children, to love our country and know their history,” he said.
For supporters of the separation of church and state, it’s not that simple.
“It came across our plate and we were like, ‘This is just insane!'” said Brian Fields, Pennsylvania Nonbelievers president and co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania, which is lobbying against the bill.
“We feel that putting ‘In God We Trust’ is in fact, government endorsement of religion from the perspective, especially of students,” he added.
Saccone introduced the bill this year, in the hopes that it would become law by 2014, the 150th anniversary of when the motto first appeared on U.S. currency.
The bill passed the House Education Committee last week. The next step is for it to be placed on the calendar for a full vote on the House floor.