“In God We Trust” signs become mandatory in Louisiana schools

June 2, 2018 • 9:46 am

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has its work cut out for it, as there is never an end to the Christian, conservative, and Republican efforts to push God, Jesus, and faith into the public schools, despite its violation of the First Amendment. When they lose a case, they simply grow a new head, like the hydra of mythology.

Now Louisiana has got into the act. As the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports, the governor of Louisiana signed a law on May 23 that mandates that the “official U.S. motto”, “In God We Trust”, be put on display in every public school by August of 2019. (Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed this the “national motto” in 1956.)

Further, that law requires the schools to teach students about the motto in its social studies classes, as well as “about the U.S. flag and other ‘patriotic customs'”.

This is the kind of sign we can expect in Louisiana’s public schools in about 15 months:

(From paper): This official Architect of the Capitol photograph displays a bronze plaque of the nation’s motto. Louisiana’s public schools will have to display this motto no later than August 2019.(Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

According to the paper, the law was proposed by State Senator Regina Barrow—a Democrat!—to help curb “moral decay” in the schools.

Regardless of the fact that this motto is on U.S. currency, and has been declared legal in that respect, it still violates the spirit of the First Amendment. After all, it entangles church and state, and, increasingly, Americans aren’t trusting in God. Year by year, we’re losing our religion. Really, how many of us “trust in God”, and how do we trust in God?

I don’t know if the FFRF will fight this sign, but I’ve written them to find out. They may find it a useless battle given the legality of that motto on U.S. currency. But that’s money, and this is the public schools, considered an organ of the U.S. government. Promulgating in God in the schools, whether through teaching creationism or displaying an untrue sign that pushes God, is unconstitutional. I’m even wondering if Muslims can sue, requiring “In Allah we trust”—something that would probably sink the whole endeavor.


h/t: Blue

70 thoughts on ““In God We Trust” signs become mandatory in Louisiana schools

  1. I propose they should insert “for no reason” at the end. “In God we trust for no reason.” (Except it would be in all caps of course.)

    1. I had a thought that people could create small stick on labels that could be placed underneath them that read “Which one?”.

  2. @#$%^&*(!!!!!! There are no swear words
    strong enough to express my fury at the intrusion by the godlies in to schools.
    Hope FFRF prevails in whatever they decide to do to fight this. The state (LA) puts a way too heavy load on to any atheist students.
    Sometimes anarchy looks appealing!

    1. I agree. I bet there are plenty of FFRF members in LA who will want to protest this.

      And I’m sure we all had exactly the same thought – how is this going to stop moral decay, and what moral decay are they referring to?

  3. I think it’s worth litigating, since the school precedents are so clear and have usually commanded large majorities in rulings.

  4. It almost seems like an unfinished phrase. In g*d we trust what? Regarding the money you can trust it is real but what is this g*d going to do to get this trust? Shall we trust that guy raising money for a better jet will get it and how will Jesus get around when he returns? On a jet or a donkey? He really should have his own wings.

    How do we trust in something that does not exist?

    1. …but school shootings are a result of Free Will(!). Earthquakes are a different matter, so I guess the one that’s overdue will continue to be held back.

      1. I thought it was video games. Or was it our abortion culture? Or culture of death. There are so many causes of them, it’s hard to keep track. At least we know it isn’t the guns.

  5. Further, that law requires the schools to teach students about the motto in its social studies classes

    That might actually be better than a law simply forcing schools to post it. Posting it with no explanation let’s students assume/imply the meaning is that the US is a god-fearing country. With mandatory explanation, probably at least a few (not all, but more than zero) HS social studies teachers will tell their students how this came about: in the 1950s, as a result of the red scare, etc… and that no, it wasn’t any founder-era acknowledgement of God.

    1. “HS social studies teachers will tell their students how this came about: in the 1950s, as a result of the red scare, etc… and that no, it wasn’t any founder-era acknowledgement of God.”

      Actually, the motto “In God We Trust” first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin in response to the Civil War. As for founder-era acknowledgment of God, there are four such acknowledgements in the Declaration of Independence. Just sayin’.

      1. As for founder-era acknowledgment of God, there are four such acknowledgements in the Declaration of Independence.

        Which makes the fact that there are none in the Constitution that much more significant.

        1. “Which makes the fact that there are none in the Constitution that much more significant.”

          Not really. The Declaration and the Constitution aren’t competing, they’re complementary. The Declaration tells us that the people’s rights are divine in origin, sacred and unalienable, while the Constitution tells us that governments are human in origin, answerable to the people and dependent entirely on their consent. Hence, there’s every reason for the former to mention God and none whatsoever for the latter to.

          1. I disagree with your analysis.


            The Declaration of Independence Has one reference to God: “Nature’s God” which immediately follows a reference to the “Laws of Nature”. The other references are: “Creator”, “Supreme Judge of the World” and “Divine Providence”.


            Whether or not there were “non-believers”
            involved at the time the first document was written, there were a number of very important “non-believer” U.S. political leaders involved during the time of the writing of the Constitution, and after.

            Throughout our history, non-believers have had to be careful as to their actions and speech. There may have been quite a few believers in David Hume’s “Nature’s God” during the writing f the Declaration, which was not the Judeo-Christian God. Franklin and Jefferson were in this category.

            There is plenty of historical documentation about this. While looking through Wikipedia, I found a book by Michael Stewart titled “Natures God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic.” I’ll be checking further on the author and this book. If I like what I see, I’ll buy it.

            1. Hi, Rowena—always nice to hear from you. When I said “four such acknowledgements” of God I didn’t mean four uses of the word “God,” but in fact was alluding to the four references you cite. Also, I agree that by “Nature’s God” the drafters (specifically Jefferson) did not mean the Judeo-Christian God, but “God” in a more generic sense of a “Creator.” Whether deists, theists, Christians, or what-have-you (the religious range of the 56 signers was from 32 Episcopalian/Anglicans to one Catholic), all of the signers were creationists of one sort or another.

              The key point of the Declaration was to establish a theory of rights that depends on a Supreme Being, not man, for its validity—this more as an apology for revolution than out of any interest in theology. Since one of the rights specifically mentioned is “Liberty,” including the liberty to choose not to believe in God, it follows that, ironically, being an atheist is a God-given right!

              I’ll check out the Stewart book.

              1. Dear Mirandaga,

                “As for founder-era acknowledgment of God, there are four such acknowledgements in the Declaration of Independence.”

                Sorry if I misinterpreted what you meant.

                In most of the colonies, anyone who lived there had to be of the religion espoused by the colony. For example, in the 1600s that’s why Roger Williams got kicked out of MS and formed his own colony of RI. I’m sure that most people of that time were nominal members of churches regardless of what they really believed. I think the same is true now as well.

                I had not known that all 56 signers of the Declaration were “religious” and “creationists.”

                Following is a wiki source for anyone else who was unaware of this:


                Another wiki source gives a different perspective:


                There is a tendency on the part of U.S. historians and religionists to provide biased “facts”. (This is not unique to them.) Think of all the heroic fiction U.S. citizens have been taught about our national leaders. The less pristine the truth, the more likely it is not to be in the books used to teach history. Trump is not our only President with questionable habits re females (one of many nasty habits he has.)

                I’m sure that “god-given rights” played well with religionists for a variety of reasons.

                “Since one of the rights specifically mentioned is “Liberty,” including the liberty to choose not to believe in God, it follows that, ironically, being an atheist is a God-given right!”

                Anyone who doesn’t believe in gods, will not agree that “being an atheist is a God-given right!” See the following regarding “separation of church and state”:


                Thanks for the response.

      2. Four? Count them off to me please. I see one, the acknowledgement of “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. There is mention of a Creator (once) but that could be the founder’s parents for all I know. Just sayin’.

  6. I assume in Louisiana they do not have time for this in Church? Maybe they should pass a law in Louisiana making church mandatory?

  7. I heard there was an initiative to overwhelm the courts with hundreds of unconstitutional initiatives and local laws regarding religion and abortion. Is this part of it?

  8. Not quite as objectionable as posting the 10 commandments, but its impact on “moral decay” is debatable, and I suspect many supporters objected to fluoridation of water to slow down tooth decay.
    The conservative reading of the 1st amendment is that the government may promote generic religiosity as long as it does not promote any specific church or religion. But the line between these two is not always clear, and with these folks, if you give them an inch….

  9. So if a student does not believe in god, is he/she allowed to protest or organize a protest of the display?

    1. I found out that many of the signs will probably be made of paper, so perhaps the atheist students have a right to rip them down.

  10. Nice small book for general audiences on the researched religious beliefs and practices of several of the leaders among the founding fathers by david holmes, retired from dept of religious studies at college of william and mary (jerrys undergrad alma mater). “The Faiths of the Founding Fathers”. Oxford university press 2006. It apparently was the battle of the enlightenment and the preachers…interesting anecdotes about washington and jefferson. Looks at them along with monroe, madison, franklin, and john adams on the deists persuasion and hamilton, john jay, and sam adams on the orthodox christian side of the spectrum. Explains references to “natures god”.

  11. It’s like a friend I had who was an absolutely terrible reckless driver. After totalling his second or third car he proudly showed me the bible he put in the glove compartment with a “that should do it!” exclamation.

    He went on to wreck two more cars and now no longer drives. Shoulda tried a bobble-head jeebus.

    1. I prefer to believe in the fluffy dice dangling from my rear-view mirror.

      (I should add that their presence there is an ironic statement 🙂


  12. Which one? After all, as a race we humans have invented loads of the bloody things so, could they be a bit more specific.

  13. It’s sort of weird watching your country sliding backward in time. It was a neat experiment there for a couple hundred years, but that is rapidly fading. The old saw about fascism wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible seems to have been prophetic.

    As a sidebar, it turns out the origin of that saying is uncertain, but there is one of several possible bases in John Thomas Flynn’s “As We Go Marching” – 1944

    “But when fascism comes it will not be in the form of an anti-American movement or pro-Hitler bund, practicing disloyalty. Nor will it come in the form of a crusade against war. It will appear rather in the luminous robes of flaming patriotism; it will take some genuinely indigenous shape and color, and it will spread only because its leaders, who are not yet visible, will know how to locate the great springs of public opinion and desire and the streams of thought that flow from them and will know how to attract to their banners leaders who can command the support of the controlling minorities in American public life. The danger lies not so much in the would-be Fuhrers who may arise, but in the presence in our midst of certainly deeply running currents of hope and appetite and opinion.

  14. I was curious as to how much this would cost the underfunded schools of Louisiana. And found this.

    The nature of the display is at the discretion of the schools and to the extent that all schools choose to use paper signs, only minimal costs would be incurred, the office added.

    So they’re not going to be fancy metal signs like the one in the post. They’ll probably be made out of paper! How frickin’ tacky…if g*d were real it would surely offend. I can also imagine students in defiance ripping down the paper signs- especially high-school students.

    1. Or start demanding space for “In Allah We Trust” signs, then precipitate the inevitable lawsuits.

  15. It’s happening in a number of states, including Tennessee and Wisconsin. Copycat legislation orchestrated by the religious right.

  16. I’m reading “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America” by Kevin M. Kruse. It covers the history of the way the corporate moguls joined with ambitious clergymen to oppose FDR’s New Deal, continuing into the 1950’s when Billy Graham was welcomed into Eisenhower’s White House, including the insertion of the phrase “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance (opposed by the Unitarian Ministers Association, the only clergy group to do so). Next came the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on coins and postage stamps. It’s a fascinating book so far.

  17. It appears to be in violation of their state Constitution.

    Section 3. No person shall be denied the equal protection of
    the laws. No law shall discriminate against a person because of
    race or religious ideas, beliefs, or affiliations. No law shall arbitrarily,
    capriciously, or unreasonably discriminate against a person
    because of birth, age, sex, culture, physical condition, or
    political ideas or affiliations. Slavery and involuntary servitude
    are prohibited, except in the latter case as punishment for crime.

  18. Someone has beaten me to it, but my question is ‘which god?’. So perhaps they will give equal time to Allah, the Buddha(yes, I know he’s not technically a god), the various gods of Hinduism and so on?

    1. I recall reading many years ago that if you put two members of the same religion together they will eventually disagree about their god(s).
      This leads to the observation that there are as many gods as those that believe in them (h/t to Terry Pratchett’s novel ‘Small gods’).

      1. I find the need to point out that in the aforementioned novel there is a god of things that get stuck in kitchen drawers.
        IIRC, to appease this god, followers will rattle the drawers each morning.

        1. That’s Anoia. And she’s a goddess.

          It would be untrue to say that I ever trust Anoia, but I fervently believe in her. Every time I knock something over in my over-crammed workshop, or trip over something, or bang my head while grovelling under my car, or drop a bolt while trying to insert in into a cross-threaded hole… Anoia’s malign influence is everywhere.

          Murphy is her cousin.


  19. I’m not in favor of using the school day to indoctrinate students regarding any ideology, but I think “the U.S. flag and other ‘patriotic customs’” stand on a different footing from religion.

    Do school-kids today still recite “Barbara Fritchie”?

  20. Who’s “we”?

    I never fail to be amazed and irritated by religious people’s need to constantly stick up for their “all-powerful” god. They’re not showing much trust in his power.

  21. As usually, I am dismayed that public schools have to have their budgets wrecked by both doing such foolishness and then getting sued.

    As for “Allah”, well, that just means “(the) god”, so in a way it already reads “in allah we trust”.

  22. “They’re not showing much trust in his power.”

    That’s because the various gods always exhibit the exact same shortcomings as the poorly informed people who invented them.

  23. “I was curious as to how much this would cost the underfunded schools of Louisiana.”

    One reason for the education underfunding is that Bobby Jindal, when he was governor of Louisiana, approved of and signed into law an obviously unconstitutional bill that made it “legal” to teach creationism in the Louisiana public schools (he’s a “Rhodes scholar” snake in the grass). 78 Nobel Laureates including many others tried to get that law repealed, but all to no avail.

    A state with one of the lowest education rankings elects a governor who wants to keep it that way or even make it worse. Remember that this professional liar also ran for president, and of course he remains a member of the far right GOP.


    1. I forgot to mention that Jindal is also against the ACA (what a surprise). Trump has no shortage of help in trying to destroy the democracy in the US, and all for his own personal benefit.

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