An early example is playing out in Indiana, where state Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) is pushing legislation that would require public schools to post signs reading “In God We Trust.” Kruse’s bill would require that the signs be posted in every public school classroom and library.
Bills like this were among the first unveiled by Project Blitz, whose theocratic sponsors want to erode the church-state wall. Their thinking was that because “In God We Trust” is the national motto, legislation like this would be easy to pass in some states. They could them move up the ladder to bills that enshrine religion-based discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs and strip LGBTQ Americans of their rights.
Kruse is a longtime foe of church-state separation. He has repeatedly introduced legislation that would run afoul of that principle. He wants creationism taught in public school science classes, and last year proposed legislation that would have given public school students academic credit for Bible study classes that they took offsite. In 2013 Kruse went so far as to propose a bill that would have allowed public schools to open the day with recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. One problem: The scheme was blatantly unconstitutional. This sort of state-sponsored, coercive school prayer was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1962.
Here’s the problem with Kruse’s latest bill: Public schools are charged with serving children from a variety of backgrounds – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Humanist, etc. They must welcome all, and large signs posted in every room that remind some students that they’re second-class citizens or that their beliefs are not worthy of respect aren’t the way to do that.
State Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said it well: “For children of different faith backgrounds, this will make school seem like a less welcoming place.”
Indeed it will – and that’s exactly what public schools are not supposed to do. Kruse’s bill should be rejected. With your help, Americans United will oppose this misguided measure and others like it.