Pennsylvania Legislator Proposes Legislation to Put ‘In God We Trust’ Sign in Every Public School in the State

Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone (R-obviously) has a history of sponsoring and supporting unnecessary legislation to promote Christianity.

Rep. Rick Saccone (at podium)

In 2012, he sponsored House Resolution 535 to proclaim it the “Year of the Bible.”

That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.

In May of that year, he supported another piece of legislation recognizing May 3 as the “National Day of Prayer.”

Then, a year later, he sponsored House Resolution 17 recognizing April 30, 2013 as “National Fast Day.” The resolution stated that we owed our dependence “upon the overruling power of God” and that the only nations that are blessed were the ones “whose God is the Lord.”

We’re talking about a representative who should’ve been a pastor but went to the wrong table on Career Day.

Now, Saccone is set to propose legislation that would put the words “In God We Trust” in every public school — and possibly every classroom — in the state. He’s calling it the National Motto Display Act:

The motto “In God We Trust” is part of the history and heritage of the United States. On April 22, 2014, we will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of our national motto “In God We Trust” on our coins.

With this rich history in mind, my legislation will require every school district to display the motto in each school building. The display of our nation’s motto may take the form of mounted plaques or artwork from a student contest that will be prominently displayed in each school building.

Justin Vacula explains the obvious problems:

Public schools which ought to be secular — neutral in regards to religion — will be forced to prominently display religious messages if Saccone’s proposal is passed. Students will undoubtedly receive the message that belief in God — particularly the Christian god — is patriotic and the false message that the United States is a ‘Christian nation.’

I wonder if Saccone would want public schools to talk about the secular history of the United States including founding fathers who believed in a deistic god — a ‘god of nature’ who designed the universe but was not active in human affairs. Saccone’s “traditional values” — whatever they might be — and conflation of patriotism with Christianity ignores the contributions of secular Americans who “made our country a nation like no other.”

The reason these types of resolutions pass is because the politicians know they won’t get much pushback for supporting it. You can change that. If you live in the state, consider contacting your member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. No matter where you are, you can raise hell about this legislation on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, YouTube, or anywhere else.

Motto or not, it’s easy to see how Saccone’s real motive here is to promote his faith in public schools under the guise of American History. There’s no reason a pro-Christian message, even if it is the national motto, should be forced upon students.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Jasper

    I’m sure they have purely secular reasons for wanting to put it up… maybe they’re just really gung-ho about the nation’s motto, no matter what it happens to be at the time?

  • iwashomeasleep .

    I live in Pa, and I have an idea for a compromise. Lets put a Skeptic’s
    Annotated Bible in every public school, and a Koran to be fair and

  • Darek

    Here’s what I posted in the comments for Saccone’s video, won’t hold my breath that it gets through moderation:

    ‘In god we trust’ is a terrible, divisive national motto. Get rid of it, and adopt ‘E Pluribus Unum’ as the official motto which, unlike ‘In god we trust’, has been around since the formation of our country.

    ‘Out of many, one’ is the perfect one sentence summation not just of the history of this country but also the philosophy that made it great.

  • Kris Thompson

    People are homeless. Children arrive at school every day hungry, and they go home to a life without enough food, without the very basic things these guys take for granted. Those schools are churning out kids who haven’t got what it takes to hack college (which they can’t afford, anyway). Infrastructure’s crumbling. Thank GAWD we have these guys to champion the really important stuff.

  • Greg G.

    Hey, Saccone! If you want to promote your religion, get out of politics and become a street preacher. Stop trying to force your religion on everybody else!

  • iwashomeasleep .

    Figures. Comments are by approval only on that video. COWARD. I don’t censor mine you piece of shit.

  • allein

    But Jesus will fix all that! ..Right?

  • iwashomeasleep .

    I recommended we put a banner in the lobby of all public schools with the Bible verse Matthew 10:34, so that the children will be reminded every day of Jesus love.

  • Paul Iannacone

    I hate this state more and more every day.

  • GCBill

    I can’t wait to get out of PA for good. In the meantime, I intend to give people like Saccone a hard time.

  • anniewhoo

    Thank goodness someone came up with something to do with all those piles of money sitting around in our nation’s public schools! I was worried they would just collect dust. This is simply idiotic.

  • zeggman

    I haven’t figured out how to alter the “national motto” on my coins, but I’ve spent thousands of dollars since I started making sure that every bill that came into my hands said “In Good We Trust” before I spent it.

  • dcl3500

    I thought our motto was e pluribus unum?

  • C Peterson

    But you have to die first.

  • Paul Reed

    Even setting aside the actual words of the motto, it seems more than unnecessary to pass a law requiring it to be displayed. Even having a flag in every classroom and requiring a daily pledge of allegiance seems more than a little excessive.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m not a U.S. citizen so I have an outside perspective, but that kind of nationalism seems like the sort of thing you’d expect from North Korea, not the so-called best country in the world.

  • Paul Reed

    It was. Once.

  • UWIR

    No, that was the unofficial motto, but then they adopted the official motto of IGWT.

  • UWIR

    I’ve considered withdrawing money from the bank and then depositing it back again just to reduce that amount of IGWT money in circulation.

  • zeggman

    I haven’t done that (yet) but I often feed three singles and a twenty into the self-checkout “pay by cash” slot for a $4 purchase to maximize the number of bills I get to fix.

    It’s a drop in the ocean; I’ve never gotten anything but IGWT bills in change, but one of these days… One of these days.

  • busterggi

    Believers are incredibly insecure – they claim their god is everywhere but won’t be happy unless they imprint his name (one of them anyway) everywhere. I doubt they’d be happy if Jesus personally pissed on every door jamb to mark his territory.

  • allein

    Well, that puts a damper on things…

  • allein

    Apparently our pledge expires after 24 hours..

  • Ben English

    “That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the
    Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of
    the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.”

    Yes maybe we should study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, and then do things it commands, like feed the poor, clothe the naked, care for widows and orphans, and pay fair wages to all workers…

    …He just means the stuff about The Gays, doesn’t he?

  • Ben English

    Well that’s sort of the rub, isn’t it? If they actually had the faith they purport to, then they wouldn’t feel the neurotic urge to put up reminders all over the place whether they were legally permissible or not.

  • TeaBaggersMakeMeSick

    Also, how much will this cost? Seems like a REALLY unnecessary expense.

    And I love how these Conservative types rail about freedom but want to force public schools to display something with no choice in the matter.

  • Rich Wilson

    The more they baggage the motto with fervor, the more ridiculous the “Ceremonial Deism” line becomes. Eventually SCOTUS will have to concede that it is in fact a religious statement.

  • Rich Wilson

    I wonder if having it crossed out is sufficient grounds for them to take it out of circulation.

  • Octoberfurst

    Oh they love freedom. But their definition of “freedom” is doing what they (the Right) wants.

  • L.Long

    The only way a student would put their trust in a mythical psychopathic ass is if their education was so poor they never learn anything important.

  • Derrik Pates

    Funny how they’re only fiscal conservatives when it comes to stopping what other people are doing, but when they’re the ones spending the money, profligate spending is pretty much guaranteed.

  • Derrik Pates

    The gays. And anyone else he doesn’t like. Or might not like at some point. Charity should be done by individuals, because it’s not like we’re supposed to have a government of, by and for the people, or anything like that.

  • Derrik Pates

    It used to be, but thanks to McCarthyism, the 50s changed all that.

  • squinney

    “150th Anniversary of our national motto “In God We Trust” on our coins.” I thought IGWT was put on coins in the 1950′s. Does anyone know? This man is delusional.

  • kmrMN

    You are correct. 1956, according to Wikipedia:
    Just confirms the ignorance…

  • Mogg

    The only time anyone says the pledge in Australia is when overseas-born people take citizenship. I’m pretty sure most people born here are not even aware that there is a pledge, let alone what it is. We have no official motto – “g’day mate!” doesn’t count.

  • Rich Wilson

    “IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin.”

    1956 it became the official motto, 1957 it appeared on paper money.

  • allein

    I don’t know anywhere that adults take the pledge on a daily basis. Only schoolkids. I stopped actually saying it by high school. I would stand but usually not even bother with the hand over the heart thing; no one ever said anything. It wasn’t even out of any political or religious conviction – I just didn’t see the point of saying it every single day.

  • CarysBirch

    I like “e pluribus unum” better.

  • gander

    Wage suppression in every form they can get away with? There you go. We’re bringing back slavery! Biblical values, if there ever were any.

  • Veylon

    What’s the point of “In God We Trust” and the Year of the Bible when the Bible’s own economic remedy goes untried and even unmentioned? Where is Saccone & co. when we need a year of Jubilee in which all debts are forgiven?

  • Kobe Amick

    Force feeding God to Children is the only chance Religion has. Like myself, I expect the children will grow up and resolve to destroy the institution that lied to them.

  • mel897

    Thanks for that interesting bit of trivia I had not read before.

  • Paul Reed

    “I don’t know anywhere that adults take the pledge on a daily basis.”
    That’s a good point. If it’s so important, where are the laws requiring pledges and motto displays in every workplace and public building?

    Uh-oh, I’m going to give them ideas……

  • RJ (TO)

    This is the republican idea of governing.

  • RJ (TO)

    Street preachers don’t make 6 figures a year.

  • steve b

    There’s this document that pretty much explains how we run things here in the US. It’s called the constitution. This guy and his ilk should try reading more than one-half of one amendment to it.

  • TnkAgn

    In 1864, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was the de facto anthem of the Union as well. “IGWT” was dropped until 1956 and the Cold War, and preceded by the insertion of “Under God” in the Pledge in ’54.

  • Colonel Science

    Don’t give them ideas.

  • Guest

    If they keep hitting people in the head with the phrase “In God We Trust’ I think this

  • Mark Dorn

    Saccone represents my district. I met the man before he was elected and had discussions with him via email. Unfortunately, he doesn’t care what people think if they disagree with him. The best thing to do is send him packing. He’s essentially tea party-lite.

    Fortunately, he sends out a questionnaire about issues important to his constituents and gay marriage is generally supported. It seems to have acted as a buffer from him pushing anti-equality bills (from our emails, this man is very much anti-equality).

  • firstgentrekkie

    Where does he get “150 years”? The Seal of the United States (1782) has the words “E pluribus unum,” “out of many, one.” The motto “In God We Trust” only dates back to 1956.

  • Anna

    No, you can write on bills, as long as you don’t try to alter the denomination. The “Where’s George?” campaign is a good example:

  • Jhamilton918

    Motto on the first US penny was, “mind your business.”

  • Brian Fields

    Saccone’s bill here isn’t the only problematic bill going through the PA legislature right now. Here is a total of 6 problem proposed bills including that one:

    SB 1105 – Attempts to inveigle religion in teaching history in school:

    HB 1728 – The “In God We Trust” bill:

    A proposed bill criminalizing any sort of protest or disruption of a church service:

    SB 1098 – A bill allowing Salvation Army vehicles to be treated the same way as emergency vehicles:

    A proposed “Academic Freedom Standards” allowing schools to backdoor creation into their science classes:

    HB 922 – An attempt to disallow anonymous church/state violation cases with anonymous plaintiffs, unless they already receive threats.


    I want to celebrate National Fast Day by taking my fast car out and driving really fast

  • SeekerLancer

    Just another addition to Pennsylvania’s resume in its application to join the South.

  • Highlander

    And how they complain about the tax and spend democrats. I’m not sure how they can call themselves fiscally conservative. It seems to me that a fiscally conservative party would want to be sure they have the money before they spend it. Yet the republicans ceaselessly attempt to reduce taxes while never actually reducing spending. At least the dems are realistic, “yeah, we’re going to spend it, so we’d better have the taxes in place to pay for it.” As opposed to the republicans, “We will pander to the people who don’t want to pay taxes, while also trying to shaft the majority of people by cutting education and social safety net programs, except for social security and medicaid, cause old people vote, however, because the programs we cut are such a small portion of the budget it won’t make much difference in what we spend and we’ll just increase the defense budget anyway; in four years we’ll blame it on the democrats and the uneducated voters won’t remember that we screwed ‘em in favor of our wealthy owners.”

  • Oranje

    It’s not like the motto, which hasn’t been used continuously since its debut on the 1864 2-cent piece, was put there by any consensus or an elected official. The Mint Director was lobbied hard by ministers during the bleak Civil War to put something uplifting of that nature on the coin and he agreed.

    I’m sure David Barton could spice that up into something ridiculous, though.

  • Oranje

    Not quite. It was on plenty of coins between 1873 (the year the two-cent piece ceased) and 1956. Any wheat penny will confirm this as one example.

  • Oranje

    It was on the initial 2-cent piece of 1864, and some (but not all) coins following that. 1956 cemented it in the midst of the Cold War.

  • badgerchild

    Can I celebrate Fast Day by, you know, going to a swingers’ club or something?

  • Rob McClain

    Depends what street their church is on. Or that their Mercedes is rolling on. Have you seen the new TV series coming out, Millionaire Preachers?

  • Spuddie

    This is what happens when people elect Tea Party morons. Suddenly “fiscal responsibility” becomes “lets waste taxpayer money on illegal exercises of Christian privilege”.

  • MKW

    Well I’m certainly glad to see the Pennsylvania GOP is tackling the tough subjects much like the federal GOP. I guess it’s about time for the PA legislature to get embroiled in a year long discussion about how icky vaginas are an how they need to be controlled. Truly inspiring politics.