INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana senator is again trying to get a poster of the phrase “In God We Trust” in every classroom in the state.
Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn introduced Senate Bill 131, which mandates each school place a poster or framed photo in every classroom and library that shows the following:
- The phrase, “In God We Trust”
- United States flag
- Indiana flag
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Kruse introduced a similar bill last year. Last year’s bill also called for every school including a study of the Bible as an elective course in its curriculum. The 2019 bill was vastly different at the end of the process than the one Kruse initially introduced.
In the 2020 bill, the poster would have to be at least 11 inches tall and 17 inches wide. The national motto would have to be at least 4 inches tall and 15 inches wide, and the flags would have to be at least 5 inches by 5 inches.
The schools would have to pay for the posters or have them donated.
The bill first came up for a hearing in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee on Wednesday. In the hearing Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, asked Kruse if it would be allowed for a school to instead have a sign that said “Allah” or a different name for “God” if that community has more religious diversity.
“This is the national motto of the United States,” Kruse answered, saying it would be prohibited. “If you want to go to Congress and have them change the national motto of the United States, fine. All we’re doing is restating the national motto of our nation here in our state.”
The public was then invited to testify on their thoughts on the bill. Some organizations present at the hearing showed support (Advance America, American Family Association of Indiana) while others opposed the bill (Indiana School Boards Association, American Federation of Teachers).
Micah Clark with the American Family Association of Indiana said a Nov. 2019 Gallop poll showed that 87% of Americans say they believe in God. He also said nearly two million Hoosiers have an “In God We Trust” license plate.
Sally Sloan with the American Federation of Teachers said the organization would rather lawmakers focus on increasing student learning and funding for schools. She said she believes it’s overregulation, since school corporations already have the right to post the signs, if they want.
Kent Morgan, who frequently represents the group Disabled American Veterans, testified in support of the bill. He said his great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, he said. He said U.S. soldiers have been fighting and dying for years for the “In God We Trust” motto and the American flag.
“Once we fail to let these students understand where we came from, we will not have a country, but a country of anarchy,” Morgan said. “Hopefully you will support this bill.”
Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, later spoke about the bill - seemingly in response to Morgan’s comments. He said his grandparents are sons and daughters of the American Revolution.
“My family has fought in the Civil War and just about every war,” Stoops said. “They didn’t fight just for that motto. They fought for the flag and because America was free. I take offense when I see people trampling on the deaths of the people fighting for this flag and what they had to go through to protect the freedoms of every American, not just one particular religious group.”
The phrase “In God We Trust” has been the national motto since 1956, but it’s been on most U.S. coins since the 1860s. In 1907, President Teddy Roosevelt famously did not like the phrase being on coins.
“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a model on coins or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good, but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege,” Roosevelt said. “A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit.”