A new law now requires all public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools in Louisiana to feature “In God We Trust” in all classrooms.
The official motto of the United States since 1956 will be required after it came into law on Tuesday, signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The legislation, H.B. 8, requires the national motto to be shown “on a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches” in all classrooms.
The Louisiana law also states the “In God We Trust” motto must be a “central focus” of the poster and have a “large, easily readable font” in schools.
Public schools can use donated funds, accept donated displays, and use public funds.
A previous version of the law passed in 2018 required the motto to be featured on all public school buildings but not classrooms.
“Our national motto declares who we are to the world as a nation, and when (President Dwight) Eisenhower made that our official motto, I believe it was because of all the horrors of war that he had seen,” said State Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton), the author of the measure, reported Fox News affiliate WVUE.
“It doesn’t preach any particular religion at all, but it certainly does recognize a higher power,” Mr. Horton added.
“It’s a positive message in this world that throws so many negative things at our children.”
However, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Louisiana opposed the new law.
“It’s our belief that parents, not school officials, should be responsible for shaping their children’s religious education,” ACLU of Louisiana advocacy strategist A’Niya Robinson said to media outlets.
Robinson suggested the mandated displays may distract or divide students.
“Will it send a message that only students who believe in God are welcome in public spaces?” Ms. Robinson said, reported WVUE.
Other states requiring similar displays of the motto include:
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
A bill to mandate the motto’s display in West Virginia passed the state Senate but didn’t go through the House.