Minnesota lawmakers could soon find themselves debating the place of God in public schools.
A bill introduced Thursday would require school boards to post “a durable poster or framed copy” of the motto “In God We Trust” in every school building. Administrators could solicit private dollars to do it.
State Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, is the chief sponsor. Hall, a chaplain and former Christian school principal, said it’s as much about American history as it is religion.
A joint resolution passed by Congress and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 made it the nation’s official motto.
“This is ‘In God We Trust.’ It’s not ‘In Jesus We Trust’ or ‘In Muhammad We Trust,’” Hall said. “It’s ‘In God We Trust.’ I think it’s time we do some of those things and encourage the people of faith.”
But Hall said there are other motivations as well.
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“It feels like there is a movement that is anti-faith. And people don’t always understand the dynamics between church and state,” Hall said. “And they think it’s supposed to be completely separate. And yet from our founding fathers it was never separate."
That argument isn't flying with everyone.
August Berkshire, who is on the board of Minnesota Atheists, said his group would likely mobilize to oppose the bill if it gets a hearing.
“It violates the separation of church and state by making it look like the school takes an official position of whether a God exists.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration. A House companion has yet to be introduced.