(LifeSiteNews) – Public schools in Louisiana must now display the United States’ national motto “In God We Trust” in every classroom due to a new law that went into effect Tuesday.
Fox News reported that HB8, signed by moderate Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, calls for every public school district to “display the national motto in each building it uses and classroom in each school under its jurisdiction.”
“The nature of the display shall be determined by each governing authority with a minimum requirement that the national motto shall be displayed on a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches,” according to the new law. “The motto shall be the central focus of the poster or framed document and shall be printed in a large, easily readable font.”
Louisiana joins Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas, which have also recently adopted new requirements for public property to display “In God We Trust,” which can be found on every piece of U.S. currency.
Supporters argue that such displays are integral to emphasizing the role of faith in America’s perseverance dating back to the nation’s founding, and do not constitute an impermissible “establishment of religion.”
The phrase “separation of church and state,” frequently invoked in rhetoric opposing prayer or religious imagery on public grounds, comes not from the Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution but from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802, reassuring the group of his belief that “religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only & not opinions.”
“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State,” Jefferson said in the correspondence.
When taken literally, “‘separation of church and state” is accurate shorthand for one of the practical effects of the First Amendment: recognizing that the church and the state are two distinct entities, and neither may control the affairs of the other. Today, however, left-wing activists claim that it means religious ideas and values cannot in any way inform, influence, or be recognized by government, and that any expression of faith on government time, on government land, or with government resources is illegal, no matter how benign or voluntary. That interpretation is without basis in the words or actions of America’s Founding Fathers, who viewed religion as vital to America’s success – and worthy of being recognized in public education.
“The very same Congress (specifically, the First Congress) that approved the language of the Establishment Clause [of the First Amendment] also provided for the appointment of chaplains in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives,” American Center for Law & Justice attorney Geoffrey Surtees wrote. “In fact, on the very same day that it approved the Establishment Clause, the First Congress also passed the Northwest Ordinance, providing for a territorial government for lands northwest of the Ohio River, which declared: ‘Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.’”
Bel Edwards, who approved the new Louisiana requirement, has a mixed record on issues that are important to social conservatives. Last year, he signed a law criminalizing the distribution of abortion pills by mail, and earlier this year he unsuccessfully tried to veto legislation banning puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “gender-reassignment” surgeries for minors.