Students Ponder the Rationality Behind Mandatory ‘In God we Trust’ Display in Schools

STUDENTS PONDER THE RATIONALITY BEHIND MANDATORY ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ DISPLAY IN SCHOOLS -- Tennessee has approved a new bill that requires its schools to display the nation’s motto, “In God we trust.”

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STUDENTS PONDER THE RATIONALITY BEHIND MANDATORY ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ DISPLAY IN SCHOOLS -- Tennessee has approved a new bill that requires its schools to display the nation’s motto, “In God we trust.”

DayOnna Carson, Associate Editor

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There are several allusions to religion and Christianity ingrained within America’s government and culture. The most common mention of religion happens to be the country’s national motto: “In God we trust.” Just last year, in 2018, Tennessee’s legislation approved House Bill 2368, which requires public schools to display the motto in a noticeable location. 

For some, this new law is not a big deal, but others, including religious individuals, have found the new law a bit unusual. There is also the question of whether or not an institution should receive a penalty for not conforming to the bill. 

“I feel like it is not necessary as a law. In America, you have the freedom of religion, so it shouldn’t be enforced as a law,” said Junior David Rudek. “If schools do decide to have a display, then that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be mandatory.”

This simple phrase holds a lot of meaning for most citizens, considering the fact that Christianity accounts for around 70 percent of the population. The motto has been used on coinage since the late 1800’s, and has even made its way onto our paper currency, in 1957, with President Dwight Eisenhower’s approval. 

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and United States were feuding over the spread of Communism. Communists are generally atheist, not believing in a God, so the U.S. feared that the spread of Communist ideals would undo their missionary conquests, and compromise other countries’ freedoms. Eisenhower even modified the Pledge of Allegiance to say “…one nation, under God…” to further denote his distaste for Communists’ lack of a religion.

Many Americans proudly exercise all the freedoms that their government grants them. The Amendments of the U.S. Constitution are a constant reference in court cases revolving around equal rights. However, such laws as the “National Motto in the Classroom Act” ignore some of the principles that the country was founded upon, like the idea of a separation of church and state. 

Since America is comprised of millions of unique people, not everyone follows Christianity. Promoting a certain religion could create stigma around other religions instead of embracing everyone’s differences.

On the other hand, there are many students who support the law, and feel like the law just informs others about the national religion. These individuals believe that the law is not trying to undermine other religions, but increase positive unity under a common religion.

“I don’t think one religion is valued over others because everyone is free to speak their mind, and that is why we have multiple religions expressed in multiple ways,” spoke Junior Jordan Hudson.

Although the creation of laws that promote a certain religion does not force people to conform to said religion, it can inadvertently influence the government. Because of the beliefs expressed in the Bible, gay rights, as well as the right to teach theories about evolution, have been delayed for an unnecessarily long time.

Regardless of one’s religious preference, everyone should be allowed to express themselves freely. No one should be shamed for not being religious, or believing in a different religion than others. One’s personal beliefs should not determine their worth, or rights.

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