Signs with the national motto, “In God we Trust,” are being put up in some Dallas Fort Worth classrooms after a local company donated them.
The Grapevine-based telecommunications company Patriot Mobile recently presented the signs to Southlake’s Carroll ISD.
Scott Coburn, the company’s chief marketing officer, told the Carroll school board, “Patriot Mobile is honored to donate these posters to CISD, and we are very excited to see them amongst all of our schools.”
According to a 2021 law, Texas schools are obligated to display posters of the national motto in a “conspicuous place” if they are donated.
The Texas Senate passed it unanimously while the House approved it by a vote of 106 to 35.
The motto “In God We Trust” has been used in an official capacity by the U.S. government as far back as the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln signed a federal law permitting its use on coinage.
Prior to this, the phrase “in God is our trust” had been featured prominently in Francis Scott Key’s 1814 song The Star Spangled Banner, which is our current national anthem.
In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower codified the long-standing tradition by making the phrase the official national motto. The following year, Eisenhower ensured the motto would be added to paper currency.
Some groups have voiced disapproval of the new posters and the law requiring their presentation in classrooms, suggesting that the signs represent an “establishment of religion” or violate the “separation of church and state.”
The Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition (SARC) denounced the posters, claiming to be “disturbed by the precedent displaying these posters in every school will set and the chilling effect this blatant intrusion of religion in what should be a secular public institution will have on the student body, especially those who do not practice the dominant Christian faith.”
Sophie Ellman-Golan of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice expressed similar disapproval, suggesting, “These posters demonstrate the more casual ways a state can impose religion on the public. … Alone, they’re a basic violation of the separation of church and state.”
Ellman-Golan claimed that “in the broader context, it’s hard not to see them as part of the larger Christian nationalist project.”
Other religious groups disagreed.
Corey Saylor, a representative from the civil group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), lauded the national motto signs.
He explained, “The notion of trusting God is common across faiths. … The posters can foster discussions among Texas students about their various faiths and enhance understanding.”
Furthermore, Senator Bryan Hughes, the author of the law, suggested that the posters are not exclusively designed for Christians.
“The national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God,” Hughes tweeted. He said he is encouraged to see “individuals coming forward to donate these framed prints to remind future generations of the national motto.”
The U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts have repeatedly ruled that displays of the national motto are not violations of the First Amendment, which prevents the government from making laws that regulate the establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion.
“The reasonable observer . . . fully aware of our national history and the origins of such practices, would not perceive these acknowledgments as signifying a government endorsement of any specific religion,” wrote Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in the 2004 case Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.
As recently as 2018, the 8th Circuit Court ruled unanimously that “although the motto refers to one God, historical practices confirm that the Establishment Clause does not require courts to purge the Government of all religious reflection. … As the Supreme Court has proclaimed time and again, our ‘unbroken history’ is replete with these kinds of official acknowledgments.”
The efforts to donate the posters will continue, however, and Leigh Wambsganns, VP of Government and Public Affairs at Patriot Mobile, told The Dallas Express that requests for the signs have significantly increased.
“Originally we ordered 500 and those went quickly,” Wambsganns explained, “so we ordered 500 more and they are already accounted for.”
When asked about any pushback Patriot Mobile received after the story made national news, she said, “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and kind.”
She continued, “Of course, there were a few nasty calls,” but that Patriot Mobile employees “consider it pure joy when we are attacked for standing with God. We will always choose God’s side and know He is with us.”
Wambsganns further noted that if people were interested in donating “In God We Trust” signs to their schools they could order legally permitted posters from www.americanhistoryandheritage.org.