After House Bill 46 was signed into law in March, public schools in Kentucky are now required to display the motto “In God We Trust” in a prominent area.
The bill describes a prominent area as, “A school entryway, cafeteria, or common area where students are likely to see the national motto.”
Many schools have opted to follow the new legislation with a plaque, artwork, or even a framed one dollar bill.
The national motto is displayed at Barren County High School in the form of a plaque at entryways to the main building, Area Technology Center, and the Innovation Zone.
Many critics of the law argue that this further promotes “Project Blitz” and blurs the line of separation of church and state in education.
Blitzwatch.org defines Project Blitz as, “A coordinated effort by Christian Nationalists to inject religion into public education, attack reproductive healthcare, and undermine LGBTQ equality using a distorted definition of ‘religious freedom.’”
The Kentucky arm of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote an open letter in February before the law was passed.
In this letter they asked Kentucky legislators to, “refrain from mandating any religious observation or exercise of religion in our public schools.”
The letter also stated that, “We firmly believe that our legislature should be working to ensure that schools are adequately funded, that teachers are appropriately compensated, and that our students receive the highest quality education possible. . . To do right by our students, these should be our priorities — not mandating that every school in the Commonwealth display a motto that has the appearance of endorsing religion.”
Those in support of the changes in the public school system state that the U.S national motto does not violate the First Amendment, therefore the law passed does not violate the First Amendment either. They interpret “God,” as used in the motto, to apply to all religions with a deity. It is argued that there is no promotion of one religion with this motto as there would be if the name Jesus or Muhammad were used.
Rep. Brandon Reed, a Republican minister from Hodgenville, was the bill’s main sponsor.
Reed stated in an interview with WKYT, “I’m enormously proud of this legislation, which passed with support from both Republicans and Democrats and sends a message that our national motto is nothing to be ashamed of.”