American Legion Post in North Carolina Unsuccessfully Tries to Foist ‘In God We Trust’ Posters on Public Schools

This isn’t turning out to be a very good month for the American Legion.

First, members of Post 311 decided they wouldn’t attend a Veteran’s Day assembly at a Pennsylvania public high school because the superintendent told them their chaplain wouldn’t be allowed to deliver a prayer at the event.

Then, there was the PR smackdown suffered by an Illinois chapter of the organization. You’ll recall that after Morton Grove Park District Commissioner Dan Ashta declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, piqued members of Legion Post 134 decided they would withhold their $2,600 worth of financial support. On Hemant’s initiative, atheists from all over the country quickly contributed $3,300 to more than make up the shortfall (at least for this year), ensuring that Morton Grove residents can continue to enjoy their greenery.

And now, there’s this:

A representative of the American Legion post in Boone [North Carolina] on Monday criticized the school system’s decision not to accept framed posters reading “In God We Trust” for its school buildings. Rick Cornejo addressed the Board of Education during public comment Monday asking the school system to reconsider. The 16-inch by 20-inch frames feature the words “In God We Trust” on an American flag background.

The American Legion Post 130 has presented 185 of the free signs so far to churches, organizations and businesses throughout the county, Cornejo said.

Great. Churches, private businesses… No problem. Just keep the posters out of schools and other public buildings, please.

In July, Watauga County commissioners accepted one to post in the Watauga County Administration Building.

Uh-oh.

The American Legion Post [also] intended to place one poster in each school, but was denied after the school system’s legal counsel advised that it would not be appropriate to post, WCS spokesman Marshall Ashcraft said.

Ashcraft said the school system was told that the poster could be construed as a promotion of religion.

Ya think? In God We Trust is religious? Well, I can believe it. The Legion members in North Carolina can’t.

Cornejo merely wants to children to learn history, he says:

Cornejo said that “In God We Trust” in the national motto, adopted in 1956, and that it is printed on American coins and bills. He argued that students should be more exposed to historical information, and that other school systems have allowed similar displays.

I agree that more historical information is always better, and hereby humbly offer the American Legion a chance to bundle some of my history-rich articles on Christianity for free — to distribute as widely as the group sees fit.

Just to start the Legionnaires off, I’d suggest:

Distribute away. You’re welcome, American Legion.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • waybeyondsoccermom

    Makes me wonder. What if the American Legion created a giant poster with only an image of a US coin or bill? Wouldn’t that get around the issue? Kinda sneak the “In God We Trust” into a school (not that I want that to happen). But, it does show just how wrong it is to have that phrase on our money in the first place.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

      The same idea was raised regarding a bill in Illinois which was meant to require the phrase to be displayed in every school classroom.

      Rep. James Roebuck, D-Philadelphia, questioned the bill’s relevance, saying a principal could tape a dollar bill to a wall to abide by the mandate. [source]

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw/ m6wg4bxw

    Cornejo must stupid or full of shit. Schools already teach history in history class, using information from history textbooks. If a historical account of “In God We Trust” isn’t in the textbooks, and he thinks it should be, then the obvious response is to get the textbooks changed.

    • Buckley

      As a History teacher I can tell you that you could try…but most historians don’t give a shit about trivia…and even if it were in the book I wouldn’t teach it nor would I test it. So, he can change the books if he wants, but I doubt it matters…except to the Fundies.

  • Ian Reide

    Not sure of the USA situation, but in Australia the membership of the Returned Services League is a tiny percentage of those eligible, not at all representative.

    • Gus

      The American Legion is not representative of all veterans. It’s a pretty small, mostly older group. The average gathering of American Legion members looks like a nursing home common room, but with fewer people and funny hats.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/MsWildhack Montana

      I had/have 4 uncles who were war vets (two are now deceased). Two WWII vets, one Korea, one Viet Nam. None of them ever joined the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars — all for the same reason. They said that the men who joined groups like that were always in roles that kept them safely away from any of the reality of war. They said anyone who knew what war was really like didn’t want to keep playing soldier when they came home.

  • Chris

    Here is my contribution. ;)

  • Kevin Sagui

    Oh, are we going to teach about how it was adopted as our national motto during the height of the Red Scare? Please do make the association between IGWT and McCarthyism!

    • Gus

      We could turn it into a whole history course entirely focused on the myriad times we have failed to live up to our national principles.

  • WoodwindsRock

    Right, our children should be taught, every step of the way, how (and when) exactly “In God We Trust” ended up becoming our national motto.

    Perhaps then, it might finally get struck down.

  • EdmondWherever

    I hope things like this build to a head, and lead to an objective examination of why this is a bad national motto.

  • Brian

    If “history” is so important, then distribute posters that say “E Pluribus Unum,” it too was our national motto, and it too is printed on money, and it does not violate the separation of church and state. Problem Solved.

    • David Kopp

      But that would be honest and proper, and we can all tell that they’re against that.

  • tubi11

    THIS is the problem with the “ceremonial deism” bullshit the SCOTUS has used to get around taking it off the currency and coinage. The Legion has a fair point. If it’s on the dollar bill, and that’s OK, what’s wrong with putting it up on the walls of schools. Even the Supreme Court says it’s OK, right?

    • Agrajag

      The right answer, of course, would be to remove it from the dollar bills too.

      • tubi11

        Well, yes, but this Court seems to have a hard time coming up with the right answer.

  • Gold

    Add an “L”. Problem solved.

    • Amor DeCosmos

      “Lin God we Trust”? “In God we Trustl”? Ahhhh – “In Gödel we Trust”? – but that needs an el and an ö.

      • Artor

        Good idea! I’ll put on some old E.L.O. now and rock out!

  • wtbusdriver

    A few more of these stories on the American Legion and I’ll be cancelling my membership.

    • WhatTheWhat

      How have you not canceled your membership already?

      • wtbusdriver

        I’m still proud to be a veteran and the AL does a lot of good work in supporting veterans. A few things that I disagree with from AL Posts that I’m not a member of won’t change my mind at the point.

  • Gus

    They decided to try this in Boone!? Not the best choice. For those of you who don’t know, while the area surrounding Boone is pretty much rural Appalachia, Boone itself is home to Appalachian State University and is pretty much entirely a college town. And it has a reputation as a hippy school. It’s guaranteed that the local schools educate the children of faculty members in fairly large numbers (almost everyone is employed by the University, this is the quintessential rural, college town). So of course they’re going to object to this. The school system’s lawyer is no fool. They know there’d be a lawsuit that would be expensive to fight and simply isn’t worth it. It seems to me that in addition to the typical Christian hubris, there’s also some conflict here between the rural folks and the University folks.

    • Argus

      Gus..yep I live there and I am a parent of a high schooler….I would have immediately filed a complaint.

  • Gus

    I find it kind of ironic that a group so dedicated to spreading a Christian message is called “Legion”.

    • Artor

      I’m amused that so many Xians think that “Legion” is a single demon’s proper name, rather than understanding that the passage means it has many names.

  • Pithecanthropus

    I miss e pluribus unum.

    • Gus

      Maybe we should start a drive to reinstate the motto, making no mention of the new one, just focused on the historical motto and how much its message of unity is needed in our day of fractious politics…

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        Perhaps consider settling for Annuit Cœptis, as compromise?

  • L.Long

    I don’t mind the ‘In gawd we trust’ cuz when I see one I tell my kids that it is totally true. You can trust any gawd that appears to you, but everyone else pays cash, cuz ya can’t trust them.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/MsWildhack Montana

    I work in our local public school district and I’m afraid we have a few of these “In God We Trust” thingummies (the ones in our schools are 8×10 – not really posters, per se). I’d dearly love to make an issue of it and point out that it is totally inappropriate for a public school, but I need my job and it’s otherwise a great place to work.

    Frankly, I’ve always been a bit mystified as to why any of them were ever put up. Even though this is small-town Iowa, our district is usually pretty good about not doing cr*p like that.


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