More information about Oklahoma’s SB 1016

SB 1016 would require every school district in Oklahoma to display the words “In God We Trust” in every “public elementary and secondary school library and classroom in this state,” as well as each “public building or facility in this state that is maintained or operated by state funds.” While the bill also contemplates all of these displays being donated, theocratic organizations have been itching to supply them to public schools for years.

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). Oklahoma’s SB 1016 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 says, 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