Is There Really a Separation Between Church And State?

 

The new school year typically brings new teachers, or new classes, but this year, there is a new law being put in place. House bill 46 was signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin on March 25, 2019, stating that the national motto, “In God We Trust”, must be displayed in a prominent location in all public schools. 

 

The motto is engraved on a plaque as you enter the main doors of Barren County High’s main building, 

 

This new legislation caused some uproar in Kentucky school systems, with the belief that this new law infringes on the separation between church and state. In Fayette county, one school displayed a single framed dollar bill on the wall. They believe this is a “loophole” from having to physically display the motto at the school, yet they are still complying with the state regulation.

 

Some BCHS students disagree with the law as well.

 

 “There was a good motivation behind the law, seeing as the motto is a staple in our country, but I do feel like it violates the separation between church and state.” Malena Hughes, sophomore, said.

 

Much of the disagreement comes from the government forcing this regulation on schools by making it a requirement all across the state.

 

Wesley Liverman, senior, agreed with Hughes in saying, “Personally I do believe it breaks the separation between church and state. We are not a private school that can do as it pleases, we are a government funded school. So for it to be a legislative law to require this, I believe it’s no different than the government pushing religion onto us.”

 

Some also believe that this infringes on the rights of students following different religions, and who worship figures other than God. 

 

 

“I believe that it is an infringement on the separation of church and state. If a Muslim student were to make a special request to display an Islamic saying it would be denied, ” Kayleigh Byrd, senior, said. “Not all Kentucky students follow the Christian religion and is not an American value.”

 

Some also believe that though the law had good intentions, it wasn’t brought about in an appropriate manner. Seeing as the site based council is responsible for making the important decisions within the school system, many think that it should have been their decision to display the motto as well.

 

“I don’t think it necessarily violates the separation, but I feel like it should have been each district’s choice to display it. ” Parker May, junior, stated.

 

Todd Steenbergen teaches a class at BCHS titled, “The Bible and its Influence”. Because of this, he has faced much backlash from the community on the belief that this class violates this separation between church and state. 

 

“We already recite the pledge at school which states, ‘One nation, under God’ and the motto is on our money, so I don’t think it violates the separation,” Steenbergen said. “I think it is perfectly fine for schools to display it, but I think it should have been more of a district decision rather than a state mandate.”