Tennessee lawmakers have officially passed a bill that would require all public schools in the state to “prominently display” the country’s motto, “In God We Trust,” the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The bill cleared the Senate unanimously, and passed the House by a mile with an easy 81-8 vote. Both Tennessee’s Senate and House are controlled by Republicans. There is one more step before the proposed bill becomes law, and that’s the fact that Republican Governor Bill Haslam would need to sign the bill.
Similar states have tried to pass bills of this type in the past, but they have been often been the target of legal challenges that argue that forcing the motto in public places would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
Republican Rep. Susan Lynn, the bill’s sponsor, disagrees. She believes the bill would not bother “faithless people” or “people of other faiths” because it’s the motto of the country, anyway.
“Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom and we should teach our children about these things,” Lynn said. Because teaching them and making schools take money out of their already limited budgets to prominently emblazon the motto are the exact same thing. Then again, “In God We Trust” is definitely better than a Confederate mural of a black man being lynched, which is actually something that had to be removed from a Tennessee elementary school earlier this month.
Governor Haslam said he would look at and consider the legislation when it reaches his desk. “At the end of the day, I’ve never been one that thought that having a motto somewhere changes a lot of people’s thoughts,” he said, which is promising for anyone who thinks this bill is a waste of time.
While this isn’t even the worst bill introduced in the past week, there’s certainly more pertinent things that lawmakers could be doing than highlighting words that are already the national motto. Gun control, maybe? Just a thought.