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South Dakota public schools will see a brand-new addition to their halls: ‘In God We Trust’
Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

South Dakota public schools will see a brand-new addition to their halls: ‘In God We Trust’

Some schools are busy taking God out of schools, and other schools are doing this

A new South Dakota state law goes into effect in July, mandating that public schools will carry the following motto on their walls: "In God We Trust."

The national motto first appeared on U.S. currency during the Civil War, and was declared the nation's official motto in 1956.

"In God We Trust" is also the official motto of Florida.

What are the details?

According to a Thursday NPR report, public schools in the state of South Dakota will have a prominently displayed inscription — in stencil or in paint — inside the school buildings.

Gov. Kristi Noem signed the bill into law in March requiring the message be displayed in schools where students are most likely to see it. The motto, according to the new law, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches in size and written clearly.

According to The Associated Press, lawmakers who proposed the law "believe the quote will inspire patriotism."

A portion of the legislation reads:

For the purposes of this section, a prominent location is a school entryway, cafeteria, or other common area where students are most likely to see the national motto display.

South Dakota isn't a pioneer in incorporating the national motto in schools: six other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee have passed similar legislation.

What are people saying about this?

Rapid City Area Schools community relations manager Katy Urban told NPR that her district chose to stencil the motto throughout the schools.

"As soon as we heard that it was going to be a state law ... we started looking at different options and we chose to do stenciling as it is the most uniform and most affordable option," Urban said.

She noted that most people seem to support the new law, and believe that "it's a really great thing" for the schools, as well as for the district families to be subjected to it on a daily basis.

Stevens High School student Abigail Ryan told KOTA-TV that the new law should be considerate of those people with differing faiths and those people from outside the U.S.

"I think that's a really foundational element of American society ... that we are a cultural melting pot and it is really important that we make all people who come to America feel welcome and to be more in accordance with the First Amendment since we all have the freedom of religion," Ryan, who belongs to a student activist group in her school, told the station.

Ryan and the rest of student group, WISE — which stands for Working to Initiate Social Equality — said that other options should be featured to be inclusive, and went on to offer up other options to substitute the word "God." Those terms included "Yahweh," "Ourselves," "Science," "Allah," "Brahman," "Buddha," and "The Spirits."

KOTA reported that the board listened to the students' request, but took no action on a measure to amend the measure.

Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, advised South Dakota members to contact local legislators to demand the law be changed.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, foundation co-president, told the AP, "Our position is that it's a terrible violation of freedom of conscience to inflict a godly message on a captive audience of school children."

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