This week, a Minnesota State Senate committee held a hearing to discuss a new bill which would ask public schools to place a poster that says “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. A similar bill recently passed in Florida that “requires school boards to display ‘In God We Trust’ in all schools and associated buildings.”
In both states, the measures have met with pushback from some lawmakers, parents and even lawyers, who are planning on fighting the legislation.
The laws opponents have a point. The First Amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
It’s hard to argue that the passage of a law that requires taxpayer-funded schools to make and display signs that say, “In God We Trust” isn’t an example of the government respecting religion. Even if it isn’t a blatant endorsement of Christianity, it is, at the very least, an endorsement of monotheism.
The sponsor of the Florida bill, State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, told her fellow lawmakers, “When we remove God. We remove hope.” For Christians, this is a fundamental truth. God, and His truth, are our hope and our salvation. But we don’t “remove” Him by taking down (or simply not displaying) references to His name. We remove Him by ignoring His teachings that we are to display the fruits of spirit, treat others with love and kindness and share His love with others.
Christians may be a majority in the U.S., but that platform doesn’t mean we should try to violate some of the basic ideas that the country was founded on. Not everyone believes like we do.
An American Civil Liberties Union Foundation lawyer told Florida’s WUFT that their concerns were simple: “[She] said the new law endorses one set of religious beliefs, which she said sends a thinly veiled message: Only students who believe in God are welcome.”
Jesus didn’t ask us to impose laws to enforce our faith or make physical public displays proclaiming it. He asked us to live it. And in reality, that’s a way more effective tool for reaching people.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.