The Freedom From Religion Foundation is launching a two-pronged campaign to combat Kentucky’s unwise new law requiring “In God We Trust” to be displayed in every public school.
FFRF is organizing an art contest with a cash prize for the best student artwork protesting the new law. The Kentucky law specifically states that “In God We Trust” displays may be in the form of “student artwork,” opening the door for clever student artists to create art displays that conform to the law’s text but not its intent, says FFRF.
Meanwhile, the national state/church watchdog is placing its own protest artwork — an eye-catching cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson — on several billboards in Louisville this week. The cartoon jocularly points out there are many different gods humans have worshipped, not just one, and that many choose “none of the above.”
The 10-foot-5-inch-by-22-foot-8-inch billboards are going up in Louisville at Bardstown and Bonnycastle, Barret and Rufer, Berry, Fegenbush, and Frankfort and Frank.
The law that the billboards are protesting is part of a broader, coordinated push known as “Project Blitz" by Christian nationalist organizations flooding state legislatures with bills seeking to united religion and government.
Any student currently enrolled in a Kentucky public school (K-12) who disagrees with the new law requiring posting of “In God We Trust” is invited to submit a poster design or other artwork. The artwork must contain the phrase “In God We Trust,” but must either protest the motto, subvert the religious intent of the new law or otherwise show why “In God We Trust” is not an appropriate motto to place in a public school.
Students can find the rules and information on uploading their art here. The grand prize is $500, with discretionary honorable mention awards of $200 each. Every student winner will also receive a “clean,” pre-“In God We Trust” $1 bill, proof that the religious motto is a johnny-come-lately addition dating to the mid-1950s.
Schoolchildren should not have to walk past a sign in school that stigmatizes the growing number of Americans who are not religious (24 percent of adults and 36 percent of young people) and which offensively ties patriotism with piety, asserts FFRF.
“‘In God We Trust’ isn’t even accurate,” observes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “To be accurate it would have to say, ‘In God Some of Us Trust,’ and that would make a very silly motto.
“In our free country, governed under a godless Constitution, there should be no religious litmus test for citizenship, and the government should not take sides on religious matters, much less treat believers as insiders and nonbelievers as outsiders,” Gaylor adds. She called the motto a Cold War anachronism that should be jettisoned in favor of the original secular motto, E Pluribus Unum [From many, come on], which celebrates unity through diversity.