Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone, a Republican, has a controversial new proposal that is sure to raise the ire or church-state separatists. The lawmaker is proposing that the national motto “In God We Trust” be placed on prominent display at all public schools in the state.
Saccone’s proposed bill, titled “The National Motto Display Act” (House Bill 1728), has already passed the House Education Committee, The Washington Times reports. If adopted, it would mandate that schools place the motto on a plaque, a piece or artwork or on another similar placard within 60 days of its passage.
The lawmaker claims that the move has little to do with religion and everything to do with teaching and reaffirming the state’s rich cultural history.
In a press release published on his website, Saccone said he hopes the bill will promote “patriotism through the display of the national motto” while educating “children about an important but overlooked part of Pennsylvania’s heritage.”
He’s hoping to use the opportunity to praise the 150th anniversary of the inclusion of “In God We Trust” on coins, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“In God We Trust” didn’t become the national motto until 1956, however the phrase was added to 2 cent coins in April 1864 by former Pennsylvania Gov. James Pollock after President Abraham Lincoln appointed him to direct the Mint.
This history in mind, Saccone believes it’s only natural to place the motto in schools.
“It’s displaying our national motto. So they can have Harry Potter on the walls, zombies and witches on brooms but not the national motto?” he said. “It would just be posted in the building somewhere so the kids know what the story is behind it. It’s about teaching history.”
The God-infused motto has stirred controversy in the past, with secularists regularly — but thus far unsuccessfully — urging the U.S. government to abandon its placement on currency.
Already Vic Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) is decrying the politician’s efforts.
“I know we would oppose it. The only question is if we would sue upon its passage or wait until a school district enacts it,” Walczak told the Tribune-Review.
Saccone insists, though, that local residents support the measure, telling Fox News that he believes it will be adopted.
“I’m sure the media’s going to try to beat it down. That’s par for the course,” he added.
If adopted, the bill is sure to spark a major First Amendment debate.
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(H/T: Washington Times)