The Oklahoma Senate is getting closer and closer to passing legislation that would require every public school classroom, library, and other state-funded buildings to prominently display the phrase “In God We Trust.”
Senate Bill 1016, which says the religious motto must be displayed along with the U.S. and state flags — if the funds are available — advanced through the Senate’s Committee on General Government on a 6-4 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to local reports.
The bill was pushed through the committee on the backs of politicians who think forced adherence to God and Jesus are more important than the spirit of secularization and the separation of church and state, but there were some objections. A few of the politicians said it was a distraction from real issues in the state, and I couldn’t agree more.
The bill, if it becomes law, could also put teachers in the difficult position of having to answer questions about God and religion, according to Democratic State Sen. Kay Floyd.
She said those discussions are better left between students and their parents. Teachers engaging in those discussions could be in violation of the law, she said.
[The bill’s sponsor Sen. Wayne] Shaw said the Pledge of Allegiance and coins also contain a reference to God. He didn’t believe it would create a problem.
Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, said local boards and teachers should be able to decide how to decorate classrooms, adding that they do not need legislative direction on it.
This bill will probably pass in Oklahoma, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising. This type of thing has happened in other states, and it has been upheld again and again as a legal loophole regarding the separation of church and state because it’s not endorsing a specific religion; it’s just the national motto!
But the fact that this kind of display hasn’t technically been deemed unconstitutional doesn’t make it right. It’s unfortunate that elected officials are focusing on this instead of many real problems facing their state.
(Image via Shutterstock)