All public elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools in Louisiana are now required to feature “In God We Trust” in all classrooms.
It’s the official motto of the United States since 1956. It comes as a new law, signed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, went into effect on Tuesday.
The legislation, H.B. 8 (pdf), requires the national motto to be shown “on a poster or framed document that is at least 11 inches by 14 inches” in each classroom.
The motto must be the “central focus” of the poster or framed document and have “large, easily readable font,” the law states.
Public schools are allowed to use donated funds or accept donated displays. They can also use public funds.
A previous version of the law, passed in 2018, had required the motto to be featured in all public school buildings—not all classrooms.
“Our national motto declares who we are to the world as a nation and when (President Dwight) Eisenhower made that our official motto, I believe it was because of all the horrors of war that he had seen,” said State Rep. Dodie Horton (R-Haughton), the author of the measure, reported Fox News affiliate WVUE.
“It doesn’t preach any particular religion at all, but it certainly does recognize a higher power,” Mr. Horton added. “It’s a positive message in this world that throws so many negative things at our children.”
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Louisiana has shown opposition to the law.
“It’s our belief that parents, not school officials, should be responsible for shaping their children’s religious education,” ACLU of Louisiana advocacy strategist A’Niya Robinson said to media outlets.
She suggested the mandated displays may distract or divide students.
“Will it send a message that only students who believe in God are welcome in public spaces?” Ms. Robinson said, reported WVUE.
A bill to mandate the motto’s display in West Virginia passed the state Senate but never went through the House.