Many Texas public school students are being greeted this school year with new “In God We Trust” posters in their schools. This is not the fault of schools, but of the state Legislature that has passed a law requiring these displays, and of bad-faith actors who donated the posters in order to indoctrinate students into a false narrative of Christian nationalism.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns this un-American effort, which is counter to our founding principles of religious liberty and secular government. Public school students have a right to a secular school, and these posters seek to undermine that right.
The law behind the posters is part of the nationwide legislative push known as Project Blitz, which seeks to inject state legislatures with a whole host of religious bills, imposing the theocratic version of a powerful few on We The People. It is an unvarnished attack on American secularism and civil liberties — those things we cherish most about our democracy and now must tirelessly defend. FFRF has been opposing Project Blitz bills all over the country and expects to see more next year with new legislative sessions.
While politicians claim that these laws are intended to showcase the national motto or inspire patriotism, it is clear that their true purpose is to peddle religiosity to a captive audience. These laws are about advancing the lie that the United States was “founded on God” or Christianity, dismantling the wall of separation between religion and government.
The motto “In God We Trust” is inaccurate, exclusionary and aimed at brainwashing American schoolchildren into believing that our nation is a theocracy. It was not made the national motto until 1956, amid the Red Scare and fears of “godless” communists. Today, America is less religious than ever, with more than a quarter of Americans identifying as “Nones.” In these politically divided times, it is more important than ever to remind students that we are all Americans, with shared values of democracy and equality under the law. To that end, a poster of the country’s original motto, E Pluribus Unum (from many, [come] one), would be far more unifying and inspiring.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is committed to defending public school students’ rights of conscience, which includes the right to be free from government-imposed religious messaging. Until the Texas Legislature respects this right, we must work to educate students so that they recognize the danger of mixing church and state.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 37,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 1,500 members and a chapter in Texas. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church and educates about nontheism.