Defeat dangerous ‘exercise in silliness’

Contact your senator now to stop “In God We Trust” in schools

Legislation is moving through Pennsylvania that would allow and encourage the display of the phrase "In God We Trust" in every public school building. This is a blatant attempt to favor religion with a public statement of faith in every school, and to expose a captive audience of school children to religious ideology.

House Bill 1728, introduced on Oct. 1, 2013 by Republican State Representative Rick Saccone, was passed by the House of Representatives on June 2 with a 172-to-24 vote.

Rep. Mike O’Brien of Philadelphia, one of 23 Democrats to vote against it, said he did not believe God needed the legislature’s help.

“Our role is not to create a theocracy, but to create a commonwealth that represents all people of all beliefs, and I think that this piece of legislation is nothing but an exercise in silliness,” O’Brien said.

State legislators are elected to represent all citizens, including those of us who do not believe in a monotheistic god or any gods. Both supporters and opponents of the bill recognize that "In God We Trust" is a religious statement. The history of the motto "In God We Trust" evidences no secular purpose; on the contrary, the motto was first adopted in 1956 during the Cold War, as a reaction to the purported "godlessness" of communism. "E Pluribus Unum" [out of many, one] is the entirely secular original motto selected by a distinguished committee of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

This is not Saccone's first theocratic overture. You may recall that with the help of many Pennsylvania members, FFRF filed suit challenging a resolution sponsored by Saccone that declared 2012 "The Year of the Bible." Although U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner dismissed the case, ruling House officials had legislative immunity, he chastened House officials for "premeditated pandering" and expressed alarm that the resolution passed unanimously.

Saccone claims that the measure would promote patriotism through the display of the national motto and "educate" students on Pennsylvanian heritage. A Senate Republican spokesperson said the bill will be reviewed, but there is currently no timetable for it to be considered.

CONTACT

Contact your senator and tell them to oppose HB 1728, which would encourage posting the phrase “In God We Trust” in public schools.

We’d also appreciate if you contact your representative if he or she voted against the bill to thank them, or conversely– complain if he or she voted for the bill.

TALKING POINTS

Use your own words if possible, or cut and paste wording below.

Please oppose HB 1728 which encourages the phrase “In God We Trust” be posted in public schools. The Pew Research Center reports that nearly 20% of adult Americans, and one in three young adults, is now nonreligious.

The phrase "In God We Trust" is not representative of all Pennsylvanians, including me. To be truly accurate, it should say "In God SOME of Us Trust," and wouldn't that be silly? HB 1728 proposes holding student contests to create artwork for the motto; this creates the impression of school-sponsored endorsement of religion. With bullying rampant it schools, the Pennsylvania legislature should not be proposing legislation that will divide students rather than unify them.

In a nation predicated on a godless constitution, which bars a religious test for public office, there should also be no religious test for “patriotism,” nor should a captive audience of school children be exposed to a proselytizing message.

MEDIA

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