More Information about Alabama HB 228

HB 228 would add Alabama to a list of states that encourage schools to violate their students’ freedom of conscience by posting the phrase “In God We Trust” in classrooms. Other states also encourage the display of other religious documents, which have landed school districts in legal trouble when teachers incorrectly thought they were permitted to promote religion through these displays under the guise of patriotism. This is precisely the intent of HB 228.

FFRF has brought legal challenges to the phrase “In God We Trust,” both as the national motto and on currency, but the phrase has survived due to a legal fantasy that it is merely patriotic and has no religious significance (although the U.S. Supreme Court has never considered this question). Alabama’s HB 228 is unquestionably intended as a religious message, highlighting just how wrong courts have been on this issue. Attempted justifications about the bill’s patriotic goals are merely a smokescreen for its true religious purpose.

This bill is part of a national fundamentalist campaign to post “In God We Trust” in every public school classroom. Congress adopted the “In God We Trust” slogan in 1956 at the behest of the Knights of Columbus, which undertook a national lobbying campaign during the height of 1950s zealotry. The original U.S. motto, chosen by a distinguished committee of Jefferson, Franklin and Adams, is the Latin E Pluribus Unum (From Many, [Come] One). A direct challenge of the religious motto has never been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Foundation Co-President Anne Gaylor points out, the religious motto isn’t even accurate: “To be accurate it would have to read ‘In God Some of us Trust,’ and wouldn’t that be silly?”

Freedom From Religion Foundation