Pennsylvania House Passes Bill Deemed to Be an ‘Exercise in Silliness’

Last Monday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would clear the way for the National Motto, “In God We Trust,” to be posted in all PA public schools. One of the few lawmakers to vote “no” on the bill was Democratic Representative Mike O’Brien. Rep. O’Brien warned against supporting legislation that promotes any public religious statement, saying,

image courtesy

image courtesy

Our role is not to create a theocracy, but to create a commonwealth that represents all people of all beliefs, and I think that this piece of legislation is nothing but an exercise in silliness.

Why is it silliness? Because this is just another piece of unnecessary legislation that serves as a political tool for candidates to pander to their religious bases during re-election races. Schools already have the ability to post the National Motto. The original version of the bill included a mandate that all public schools would be required to post the motto. The current iteration makes it optional, which in essence doesn’t change any laws prohibiting any such display, BECAUSE THEY DON’T EXIST. This bill accomplishes nothing productive, other than pumping up self-serving political résumé for people like the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rick Saccone, who made headlines two years ago by sponsoring a resolution to declare 2012 the “Year of the Bible.” Holy shit, is this guy a monumental legislative time waster or what? Aren’t there more important things to discuss in Pennsylvania?

The PA Senate has yet to review the bill and hasn’t communicated a timetable for it either. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is urging PA voters to contact their state senators to shoot the bill down or refuse to review it altogether, considering its redundancy.

Personally, I don’t care if schools want to post the motto, since it’s our National Motto. If it weren’t, I’d certainly be against it. Of course, in a perfect world we’d go back to our original, secular, inclusive motto, E Pluribus Unum. But the religious zealots in the US will spend as much money as they need to in order to have the motto remain unchanged and appear on our money, courthouses, and whatever else they can post that divisive nonsense on.

About Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, and the author of Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers, a book aimed at improving relationships between the religious and their atheist loved ones. Kevin is also the Executive Director of Young Skeptics, an elementary-level after-school program for kids focused on critical thinking. Guest bloggers are welcome at SecularVoices. Please email submissions to

  • Chris Highland

    Impressive, Rep. O’Brien! When people don’t know how to lead or make hard decisions, they need a good distraction. In American culture, the good old ‘Merican Way, is to Talk God. Can’t go wrong. Talk alot about something else, anything else, especially something or someone else up there, out there. This silliness covers a multitude of “sins” (dereliction of duty, incompetence, self-righteousness, etc). Let’s not give up on E Pluribus. Unity might just make a comeback. . .someday!

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