In troubling times, many turn to their faith for comfort. A belief in God has always played a role in this country as we see simple reminders of “In God We Trust” on every dollar that passes through our hands. This is the official motto of our nation, yet it has quietly been forced out of the public schools. In some parts of the country, schools no longer have a “Christmas Concert” but instead celebrate some form of “Winter” event. God has been removed from the equation to take all nods to Christianity out of the classroom. There is a new law in the works in Arkansas that sets out to change this.
Act 911 will require the placement of a framed poster or picture of the “In God We Trust” motto be placed in school libraries and classrooms of every elementary and secondary school. This simple placement seems to go along way to get the message out that this is still very much a part of the United States without impeding on other belief systems. The support for Act 911 has been overwhelming. Some of the comments posted on a public forum included:
“It should be there,” said Sharon Sumpter from Mulberry. “We need to turn more back to our religion, our roots and why our country was founded.”
“If you take ‘In God We Trust’ out, I mean that’s basically telling them God’s dead, you know?,” said Doug Wilburn from North Little Rock.
“It seems like kind of a marginal issue, not great but not terrible either,” said Anne Wilson from Little Rock.”
The bill takes this one step further as it also has the same requirements for any building that is maintained by either state of federal funds within Arkansas. The act also makes it clear that the posters or pictures that are to be placed will not be paid for by taxpayers. There will be no public costs for the items to be placed.
When this type of act comes up for a vote by lawmakers, many in option point to the separation of church and state. This law does not require anything about the motto to be taught in the schools nor does it bring any Christian based lessons into the class. It is merely the placement of a significant part of United States history into the classrooms in Arkansas.
Recently there have been a variety of examples of other religions being taught in public schools as a way to encourage diversity. For example, parents in a San Diego school district had to fight to have Muslim religious lesson plans removed from their classrooms. Before it was removed, students were forced to create posters that proclaimed the benefits of following Islam. The curriculum also included key elements of the religion.
With the Muslim faith being quietly brought into many classrooms, it seems odd that is it not possible to add a simple reminder that the motto “In God We Trust” plays a significant role in both the history of this country and many of the citizens of the US. Taking the time to acknowledge this importance has been left out of many talks about diversity. Young students are learning to be accepting of the Muslim faith while hiding their beliefs. Act 911 in Arkansas is a step to change this in classrooms across the state.
Act 911 joins another set of guidelines about items that are to be posted in public schools. To help and support children in crisis, schools will be required via act 379 to place posters with the Child Abuse Hotline phone number in student bathrooms and other visible locations on public school campuses. The poster is already available from the Arkansas Department of Education is both English and Spanish.
Because both act 911 and act 379 do not require the public to pay for the items to be placed in the schools, those who are supporting the new laws are hopeful they will not fall prey to being outvoted due to budget issues. It is not unusual for the group opposing this type of law to fall back on not forcing taxpayers to pay for such items.