TN Legislator Wants to Take $100,000 from UT’s Diversity Office to Buy “In God We Trust” Stickers

For the past year, whenever fire department officials and police chiefs have put “In God We Trust” decals on their vehicles, they’ve gone out of their way to explain how the message is totally not an endorsement of Christianity, adding that the stickers are privately funded, anyway.

Now wait till you hear what’s going on in Tennessee.

House Bill 2248, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Micah Van Huss, would strip $100,000 a year from the University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion — which is all the state funding they get.

That’s bad enough. Van Huss, however, amended his own bill yesterday to make it even worse. Now he wants that money to be re-allocated in order to buy “In God We Trust” decals.

Micha Van Huss

According to the bill summary:

This bill requires that all state funds budgeted for the office for diversity and inclusion at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, be appropriated to the department of finance and administration to be used in a decal program administered by the department to fund the placing of a decal of the national motto on vehicles of local or state law enforcement agencies. The department must pay the costs of designing, producing, and sending out the decals to those law enforcement agencies whose requests for the decals are approved by the department. The law enforcement agencies must pay to affix the decals to the vehicles. Any funds remaining in the decal program at the end of a fiscal year will revert to the general fund.

You’ve got to be shitting me…

This is literally money being taken out of the education budget in order to fund the promotion of religion.

Richard Locker of the Knoxville News Sentinel adds:

The amendment would also prohibit UT from using any state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, Sex Week or to promote or demote a religious holiday.”

Van Huss is preventing the university from doing all those things that create a more tolerant, inclusive, and safe atmosphere… in order to promote his religion through the use of pointless stickers that police and fire departments don’t need.

(Can you imagine the outcry if President Obama redirected $300,000 from his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in order to buy rainbow stickers for police departments everywhere?)

We get it: Van Huss loves his imaginary friend. His website once said he’s a “born-again Bible-believing Christian.” He graduated from fundamentalist Pensacola Christian College. And last year, he tried amending the state’s Constitution so that it recognized “absolute governance by the Christian god rather than the government.”

But this new bill actually has a chance to getting passed.

If you live in the state, please call or email your elected officials and ask them to vote this down immediately.

(Thanks to Virginia for the link)

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.