Controversial law requires Florida public schools to display ‘In God We Trust’

Starting this fall, public schools in Florida will be required to display the words “In God We Trust” in a noticeable place within each building used by a district.

'In God We Trust' sign in a public school. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images
Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images


Starting this fall, public schools in Florida will be required to display the words “In God We Trust” in a noticeable place within each building used by a district.

The measure was signed by Gov. Rick Scott in March. 

“This motto is inscribed on the halls of this great capitol and inked on our currency, and it should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto, which is a part of this country’s foundation,” said Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, who sponsored the measure. “Something so great should not be hidden.”

“In God We Trust” has been the official motto of the U.S. and Florida since 1956 and 2006, respectively. The motto is also printed on U.S. currency, which has drawn criticism by some who claim it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In June, for instance, the 7th Circuit Court of U.S. Appeals dismissed a case brought by a man who sought to strip the motto from U.S. currency because he said it compelled him to participate in a “submissive ritual” that he didn’t believe in. The court disagreed, writing that “a reasonable observer would not perceive the motto on currency as a religious endorsement.”

One judicial viewpoint that’s helped sustain the constitutionality of “In God We Trust” is accommodationism, which argues that the government can support or endorse religious language and establishments as long as it doesn’t favor one religion over another.

In Florida, the religion that’s being endorsed by the new law is Christianity, arguably.

 

Daniels, the lawmaker who endorsed the measure and has been a controversial figure in Florida politics, once told a crowd of Christian churchgoers that God had anointed her “to write legislation so that his kingdom could come and manifest itself like never before.”

Five other state legislatures have passed measures requiring public schools to display “In God We Trust” this year, including Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee. The move to push the motto into the public sphere seems to be related to the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation’s Project Blitz, a lengthy guide designed to help legislators pass religious-minded laws.

The guide also suggests models for other legislation, including proposals that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman, offer religious exemptions for adoption agencies from serving same-sex couples, and exempt “pharmacists, medical personnel and mental health practitioners from providing care to LGBTQ people, and such matters as abortion and contraception.”

The recent success of religious-minded legislation around the country has drawn criticism from secularists and those who support the separation of church and state.

“It’s a tsunami of Christian national laws in our country right now,” Annie Laurie Gaylord, co-president of the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, told the Associated Press. “The upcoming election will say a lot about the direction of our nation ... With the Republicans in charge of Congress and so many of these states, we are seeing a constant push for theocracy.”

How New York's largest hospital system is predicting COVID-19 spikes

Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.

Credit: Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
  • The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
  • Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

Listen: Scientists re-create voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy

Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
  • With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
  • The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Keep reading Show less

Put on a happy face? “Deep acting” associated with improved work life

New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.

Credit: Columbia Pictures
Personal Growth
  • Deep acting is the work strategy of regulating your emotions to match a desired state.
  • New research suggests that deep acting reduces fatigue, improves trust, and advances goal progress over other regulation strategies.
  • Further research suggests learning to attune our emotions for deep acting is a beneficial work-life strategy.
  • Keep reading Show less

    World's oldest work of art found in a hidden Indonesian valley

    Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.

    Pig painting at Leang Tedongnge in Indonesia, made at 45,500 years ago.

    Credit: Maxime Aubert
    Surprising Science
    • Archaeologists find a cave painting of a wild pig that is at least 45,500 years old.
    • The painting is the earliest known work of representational art.
    • The discovery was made in a remote valley on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
    Keep reading Show less
    Mind & Brain

    What can Avicenna teach us about the mind-body problem?

    The Persian polymath and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age teaches us about self-awareness.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast