South Dakota requires all public schools to PROMINENTLY display “In God We Trust”

We all know that “In God We Trust” is the U.S. national motto, though the unofficial motto—a much better one—is E pluribus unum (“Out of many, one”). The former is divisive, the latter unifying. The change in mottos was made in 1956, during the Cold War, and was largely a response to “godless Communism”: an American affirmation of “See, we’re better than you are!” The motto bill was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law on the same day by President Eisenhower.

Of course this motto violates the First Amendment, as it’s a government endorsement of religion over nonreligion, but, as Andrew Seidel recounts in his book The Founding Myth, the courts have been weaselly about this, interpreting this kind of breach as “not religious” and “part of tradition”. But I have little doubt that founders like Madison and Jefferson would never have approved of such a motto.

I’m not sure exactly why the forces of Christianity are trying to push this kind of stuff on us more than ever. Perhaps it’s a desperate response to the increasing secularization of America.  And so “In God We Trust” bills are passing in various states. The latest is in South Dakota, where, according to multiple sources (e.g., CNN and ThinkProgress), students returning to public schools this year will be greeted by the results of a new law: a required public display of “In God We Trust”. And it has to be “prominent”, like this stencil on a wall at South Park Elementary in Rapid, City, South Dakota (photograph from 6 days ago). I find this dictatorial and ridiculous: something out of Nineteen Eighty-Four (just substitute “Big Brother” for “God”).

Photo: Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal via AP

The law takes effect this month. As CNN notes:

A bill signed by Gov. Kristi Noem mandates that the words be on display for students to see beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

The display can be on anything the principal feels is appropriate for their school, like a plaque or student artwork.

But there are requirements. The display must be at least 12 inches square and must be in a prominent location.

“A prominent location is a school entryway, cafeteria, or other common area where students are most likely to see the national motto display,” the bill said.

Here’s most of the bill; note that, anticipating lawsuits, display of the bill will be defended by the state at no charge to the school or school district, though it’s not clear where the money will come from. (Click on the screenshot to get a pdf of the full bill).

There are some savvy students there, though their attempt to modify the bill failed miserably (from CNN):

Lawmakers have heard concerns that displaying the motto may alienate students of non-Christian backgrounds.

A group of Stevens High School students in Rapid City spoke to their school board to propose a modification to the sign that would include mention of science, Allah, Yahweh, the Spirits, Buddah, Brahman and “ourselves” in addition to God, according to CNN affiliate KOTA TV.

“I think that’s a really foundational element of American society is that we are a cultural melting pot and it is really important that we make all people who come to America to feel welcome and to be more in accordance with the First Amendment since we all have the freedom of religion,” student Abigail Ryan told KOTA TV.

The board heard the opinion but took no action, the station said.

ThinkProgress adds a bit more information (my emphasis):

Only one Democratic state senator voted in favor of the bill.

During the 2019-2020 school year, all South Dakota public schools will have to display the “In God We trust” in a “prominent location” and the words “may be no smaller than twelve inches wide by twelve inches wide.” Prominent location is defined as a school cafeteria, school entryway, or other common area. The law also requires that the attorney general provides legal representation at no cost to the district, employee, school board, or member of the school board and that the state will financial responsibility for any monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and other costs.

This bill is part of a national movement, too:

South Dakota is not alone in its decision to require public schools to display the motto. According to The Washington Post, at least six states passed these kinds of laws in 2018 and another 10 have introduced or passed them this year. Kentucky schools are also getting ready to display the motto prominently in public schools this year.

This will clearly go to the Supreme Court, and it’s pretty certain they will declare it constitutional. After all, if every $1 bill the kids have carries “In God We Trust” on it, and that’s legal, why not in the schools?  But we can be sure that there will be challenges. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, for instance, has correctly deemed the law “exclusionary”, and adds this in a bulletin (my emphasis):

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., which has legally challenged the motto’s inclusion on U.S. currency, alerted its South Dakota members to contact their legislators to express opposition to the law,” AP reports. [JAC: this bulletin was issued four days ago, though the law passed in March.]

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told AP: “Our position is that it’s a terrible violation of freedom of conscience to inflict a godly message on a captive audience of schoolchildren.”

“In God We Trust” was belatedly adopted as a motto when President Eisenhower signed legislation at the behest of the Knights of Columbus and other religious entities, which undertook a national lobbying campaign during the height of 1950s zealotry. The original inclusionary U.S. motto, chosen by a distinguished committee of Jefferson, Franklin and Adams, is the Latin E Pluribus Unum (From Many, [Come] One). As FFRF principal founder Anne Gaylor always pointed out, the religious motto isn’t even correct: “To be accurate it would have to read ‘In God Some of Us Trust,’ and wouldn’t that be silly?”

Anne Gaylor’s remark is more apt now than ever. The nonreligious segment of the U.S. population is currently the largest “denomination,” surpassing Roman Catholics at almost 24 percent of the populace. One-third of Millennials are “Nones,” and one-fifth of Gen Z explicitly identifies as atheist or agnostic. A large portion of the schoolchildren in South Dakota belong to Gen Z — and with the required display of an explicitly religious motto, religion is being imposed on the freethinkers among them.

It really is a violation of the First Amendment to force American kids to confront a motto that many of them don’t accept. If the courts let this stand, it will represent a further erosion of the wall between church and state. These laws are travesties, but show the desperation of the faithful who, in a climate of increasing secularism, need to force their own religion down the throats of children—in schools that are an arm of the U.S. government.

I know we have readers in South Dakota, so weigh in below. Are you people doing anything about this?

102 Comments

  1. Ken Pidcock
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure exactly why the forces of Christianity are trying to push this kind of stuff on us more than ever.

    I am. Because it feels good to offend your adversaries. I’m sure Jesus said something about that, but I can’t remember where.

  2. Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Some bold South Dakotan should take some white paint and white out the “t” in “trust”. “In God we rust”.

    • Ross Foley
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Or maybe,given the consumerist values of society, paint out the O and replace it with two Os and add S after the D.

    • Taz
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I prefer some student adds another sentence:

      “I Don’t” or perhaps “Not Me”

      • Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        Have always liked “All others pay cash” as a tagline.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      How about “Trust in God — some do, some don’t; it’s your constitutional right either way.”

      I could get behind a motto like that.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Maybe trust in God but also maybe don’t.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          How ’bout “Trust everyone, but cut the cards anyway”? That was the motto my dowager aunt impressed upon me when she taught me to play poker. 😦

          • rickflick
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like Ronald Reagan’s, trust but verify.

          • Doug
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

            If there are any Orthodox Jews in South Dakota,
            they should demand that the sign say “In G-d We Trust.”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      The next mass shooting at a US school (don’t worry, there will be one ; and we won’t have to wait long) will feature at least one crumpled corpse at the foot of such a sign, blood splatter adding a tint to the monochrome.
      Also,

      the words “may be no smaller than twelve inches wide by twelve inches wide.”

      is either atrocious copy-editing, or a sign of indentured labour screaming silently for release.

  3. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    interpretations of the 1st amendment have long been split between separationists and accomodationists, the latter arguing that we are forbidden to help specific religions, but not religion in general.
    i suspect Jefferson would favor the former, but John Adams might just have been in the latter camp.
    The Supreme cout in 1947 in the Everson case wrote(emphasis added)
    “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another”.
    The emphasaized section suggests that at least in 1947 the court was going with the separationists.

  4. Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    “I’m not sure exactly why the forces of Christianity are trying to push this kind of stuff on us more than ever.”

    It’s to rally the troops, and aa a wedge pseudoissue. Always remember that we are not dealing with fools, but with professionals who have survived the Darwinian selection processes of American politics

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    It is all part of the Christian Nationalism that is now part of the Trump movement. Think about it – is South Dakota part of the bible belt south? Kind of far north for that distinction but there it is. Russians running the government, backed by corporation money and pretty soon, like tomorrow, your vote is meaningless. Trump calls Baltimore a rat invested slum and guess who is one of the big slum lords in Baltimore – Jared Kushner.

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      I agree and will note that “dictatorial and ridiculous” are two adjectives that qualify the “greatness” of America according to Trump.

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Yet another bill put forward as part of the blitz by Christian Nationalists to make America a theocracy. They never tire because zealots never do.

    • Mark Cagnetta
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Right on! The media won’t touch it.

  7. Historian
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    There is no doubt that such laws have been passed out of a fear and desperation of the nation’s increasing secularization. The religious motivation for passing such laws is patently obvious. The Washington Post discusses the situation in depth. It states:

    ————–
    Republican state Sen. Phil Jensen, the controversial Rapid City politician who sponsored the bill, conceded it was informed by religion.

    “Let’s keep hope alive,” he said, after quoting Ronald Reagan and Chuck Norris on the merits of a God-fearing country. “This is our legislature, our history, a nation that trusts God.”

    “Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and I’m sure that’s where the motto emanates from,” Jensen continued. “I view this as a historical reaffirmation of the principles our country was founded on.”

    ——————
    Regarding a similar situation in Florida the Post writes:

    ——————
    In Florida, a week after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels pushed for a measure similar to the one in South Dakota, mandating that every public school include “In God We Trust,” which is also the state’s motto. Some at the school said they resented the effort, but it passed anyway and was signed into law.

    As she promoted the bill at the state Capitol, she revealed her inspiration: God, she said, had spoken to her in a dream.
    —————————-

    Isn’t it heartwarming to learn that this lunacy is bipartisan?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/07/27/red-state-is-plastering-god-we-trust-walls-public-schools-its-mandatory/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f53aba690eec

  8. Mark Reaume
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    “may be no smaller than twelve inches wide by twelve inches wide.”

    I think I found a loophole. They could make it 24 inches wide and one nanometer high.

    (I know this is was just a quote)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      And if kosher stoves have told us anything, god accepts a good loophole.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        What’s the deal with kosher stoves? I found this information but don’t know if it relates to your observation: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/kashering-stoves-ovens/. Among other insane instructions, I wonder what “Scorn the stovetop” means in this excerpt: “Let the cooktop rest, unused, for 24 hours. Remove all the burner grates and plates and wash thoroughly. Scorn the stovetop”? I can’t figure that out. Does one ritually utter “I scorn thee stovetop!” three times? Something like that. Or maybe a rabbi must recite the incantation.

        I also found a website that sells kosher appliances https://www.star-k.org/appliances.
        An amusing note from this site:

        “Units certified by the STAR-K generally eliminate all items of concern when the appliance is put into the Sabbath mode. Some appliances may have features that are problematic on Shabbos and Yom Tov. This is especially true for the more expensive models, but may also be an issue for a lower cost models. If at all possible, one should see the model to be purchased, preferably up and running. The STAR-K web site has a check list to be used in evaluating a refrigerator or freezer. Recent features of concern are digital temperature display (which changes when you open the door) either inside the refrigerator, or on the door, and magnetic switches which are sometimes hard to find and defeat.

        ‘VERY IMPORTANT: The Sabbath Mode feature on your refrigerator or freezer was designed to be used on an “as-needed” basis. Make sure to exit Sabbath Mode and reset your appliance at the conclusion of the Sabbath or holiday.”

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          Mark my words: it won’t be long before kosher robots put Shabbas goys out of business.

          Then they could develop kosher rabbi robots for kashering.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            I’m hoping for those robots to look after me in my infirm years.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Yes it’s sabbath mode. You can get this for lights and all sorts of appliances.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 5:49 am | Permalink

          Scorn the stovetop”? I can’t figure that out.

          A localism for “scour” the stovetop ?
          In EN_UK we still get “scouring pads” of wire and soap for dealing with seriously stuck-on stains. Including, traditionally, non-stick coatings.

    • demfromsc
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      You’re assuming that the theocrats in South Dakota understand the concept of a nanometer. Not likely! (My modified version of your suggestion would be to demand that the sign be 100 nm by 100 nm – that probably sounds gigantic to the South Dakota legislators!)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Godless metric system!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        If you could convert it to biblical measures that would be funny.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Anyone know the minimum allowable signage in “cubits”? 🙂

          • rickflick
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

            You mean, decicubits, centicubits, millicubits, femtocubits?

            • phoffman56
              Posted July 31, 2019 at 7:40 am | Permalink

              The English word ‘zeptosecond’ now has been created (10**-21 seconds IIRC, and some such behaviour measured), so zeptocubits would be a suitable height for god-botherers slogans.
              It even approaches the probability that whatever they say is true (after purifying it down to just the pure number ‘zepto’.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 31, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

                !

    • demfromsc
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      You’re assuming that the theocrats in South Dakota understand the concept of a nanometer. Not likely! (My modified version of your suggestion would be to demand that the sign be 100 nm by 100 nm – that probably sounds gigantic to the South Dakota legislators!)

  9. W.Benson
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Why the new law? I don’t know if this is the aim but one result will certainly be that opponents of the signs will be labeled as unpatriotic and, if signs are defaced, referred to as anti-social elements who lack respect for public property or morality. My reading of the act suggests that people who damage or deface signs can expect to be prosecuted and have their names printed in local newspapers. Welcome to the Middle Ages.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      I think students who wish to protest should take care not to deface, cover or remove the signs. They’d be better placing other signs all around the IGWT sign. They will still get in trouble but they will have a good argument with pretty decent precedent (if you allow one religion’s signs then you should allow all other’s and none’s signs too) and they will retain the ethical high ground.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        I think students who wish to protest should take care not to deface, cover or remove the signs.

        Except to drape them in purple for Lent, of course.

  10. Mark Cagnetta
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Any article concerning this nonsense of force-fed religion has to include mention of “The Blitz.” It was leaked online a while back, and has since been added to, but it’s where this In God We Trust posted in schools originated. Part of the Dominionists’ attempt to spread Christianity into every aspect of our lives.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    How was the meaningless phrase “In God We Trust” conceived in the first place? That is, was there a single author, what were the rough drafts, and in what way is it connected to any specific religion’s holy book? I can see how victims of religion would claim that, being vague and not connected to any specific religion, it does not violate the First Amendment.

    Interesting side note : when interpreting voting results, I like to consider Simpson’s Paradox

  12. HBB
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I am one of the (probably few) South Dakotans PCC(E) referred to in his post. This law was inevitable given the Republican domination of our state government. SD is now one of the states wasting money on this particular form of virtue signalling. I am relieved that the displays can be relatively small and placed in only one (although prominent) location in the schools. I too was heartented by the “work-arounds” some students are proposing. Bottom line: in a state with chronically underfunded schools, this is not only unconstitutional; it is criminal.

    • eric
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I too was heartented by the “work-arounds” some students are proposing.

      Yes, I think the bill including “student artwork” as one possible form of the sign could be used by students to make something good out of this requirement. The problem is not so much the law (which is a problem, but one that could be gotten around), but the fact that, as we’ve seen, at least some school administrators are going to adhere to a strictly conventional signage requirement, actively preventing it being used as a learning tool and also preventing the students from expressing themselves through it.

    • C Carter
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      As another South Dakotan (and member of FFRF and ACLU), I am utterly disgusted. And while I appreciate the students’ attempts, I agree with Cory Heidelberger’s analysis (http://dakotafreepress.com/2019/05/15/patriotic-stevens-students-recognize-sb-55-motto-demand-requires-inclusive-overhaul/). Better to reject the entire thing.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    This will clearly go to the Supreme Court, and it’s pretty certain they will declare it constitutional.

    I dunno; I think the Christianists may have pushed their luck too far this time.

    It’s one thing for SCOTUS to pass off the motto on dollar bills as mere “ceremonial deism.” But displaying it so prominently in public schools smacks of theistic inculcation.

    I think SCOTUS might draw the same distinction it has between opening prayers at governmental assemblies (which it allows with some mumbo-jumbo about “tradition”) and nonsectarian prayer to start the day in public schools (which is strictly verboten).

    Then again, there are five conservative justices on the Court who seem open to nearly any public accommodation of religion. If this passes constitutional muster in SCOTUS, I’ve got two words for you: Merrick fuckin’ Garland (okay, three words).

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Hey, they just told Trump it was okay to steal money for his wall, what’s a little writing on the school walls going to hurt. It’s all g*d, I mean good.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:17 am | Permalink

        ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. . . ‘

    • Carl
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      This would not be so bad if “ceremonial Deism” was understood as it was at the founding. “Deism” was not viewed as a form of Christianity or even a religion – it was a fairly well developed philosophy entirely congruous with atheist non-belief.

      • Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        I looked up “deism” in the Oxford English Dictionary and it gives this as the relevant definition:

        The distinctive doctrine or belief of a deist; usually, belief in the existence of a Supreme Being as the source of finite existence, with rejection of revelation and the supernatural doctrines of Christianity; ‘natural religion’.

        This is absolutely incompatible with “atheist non-belief.”

        • Carl
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Deism also holds the deity cares nothing about human doings and in no way guides history. It rejects all supernatural beliefs. It’s god is natural.

          Functionally, it seems very close, and to me compatible with my atheist beliefs. Aside from the hazy belief in a god who doesn’t do much more than exist (perhaps after setting things in motion) and who doesn’t answer prayers, what would a Deist believe that I wouldn’t? The founders did pretty well considering they lacked the science we enjoy. One can almost see the Deist God as a place holder for the Big Bang, which in our time serves much the same purpose.

          The founding generation wasn’t going on the OED definition (no snark intended). Their Deism was much richer than the accurate as far as it goes OED. My first comment on this post references a well researched book by Matthew Stewart (1/3 of it’s 500+ pages are endnotes) exploring the beliefs of the founders and their Deism in particular.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I fear very much precisely because of “the five conservative justices who seem open to nearly any public accommodation of religion.” And I shudder to think that there could yet be more of them.

      I read in “Freethought Today” that just a few months ago, the Court of Appeals” of DC ruled that the House “continue to bar atheists from delivering secular invocations.”

      The article states that occasionally non-Christians are permitted to give the invocation, just not atheists (and I’m sure the non Christians are from accepted forms of other religions.

      Granted, this ruling is about a specific situation regarding the House of Reps., but it involves not only a public display of religion but also a clear identification of a religious substrate to the invocation that is inseparable from it, in what is supposed to be a secular space, and Christian hegemony.

      Will this go to the Supreme Court?

      On a similar note, don’t forget the business about Jesus in the National Parks; i.e.,[specifically fundamentalist] Christian proselytizing is allowed [and born again Christianity is alive and flourishing among park rangers] — and here, it seems that non-Christian religions and surely even non-fundamentalist Christian religions would be banned, of course, so would atheists.

      Perhaps I’m horribilizing but I fear that the conservatives would win the day and if so, it could be used to uphold similar public displays of Christian religion. Roy Moore might once again be able to drag out that granite thing with the Ten Commandments chiseled into it.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Roy Moore consistently lost every one of his battles to display the Ten Commandments, and that was in Alabama, for goodness sake. I was surprised at that but now it seems that South Dakota has taken up the call to public virtue signalling and trying to turn the US into a Christian nation.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          The Satanic Temple needs to show up with its own stuff. The 7 Tenents is one option but I’d like to see some Baphomet drawings.

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Click on the link I give in my comment right below and you’ll see the kind of religious display I’d love to see. It’s a crying shame that was proscribed.

            • rickflick
              Posted July 29, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

              That Times article reads like an Onion piece.

              • Jenny Haniver
                Posted July 29, 2019 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, but it is genuine. I live in Berkeley and remember it well. Had I known at the time that they might have been able to make a case of religious discrimination, since Christians can proselytize and hold worship services in National Parks, I’d have advised them to find a good civil rights lawyer and sue.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        That business with Jesus in a national park can be constitutional only if the Park Service treats part of its parking lot as a First Amendment free-speech “public forum” — meaning that any discrimination on the basis of content or viewpoint would be strictly verboten.

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted July 29, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          The National Park Service has long given free reign to those born again folks to roam the park with their bibles, and has done so for a long time, citing free speech. That was discussed in a post around 7/6. In these cases they claim that free speech trumps separation of church and state.

          But re non-Christian religions, separation of church and state prevails and they don’t permit them to make public displays of their religion in National Parks. Citing separation of church and state, the Park Service removed an old parking barrier in Golden Gate Park in SF that some Hindus saw as a Shiva lingam and would worship it, pour milk over it and put flowers at its base https://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/24/us/shrine-removed-from-san-francisco-park.html. Can’t have any primitive phallic worship in a national park. I hope they removed it to the Castro. But Christians are allowed to worship.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted July 29, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            Can’t have any primitive phallic worship in a national park. I hope they removed it to the Castro.

            That one really did make me laugh out loud, Jenny. 🙂

  14. JohnE
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    An earlier comment questioned what Jefferson and Adams may have thought of this legislation. These quotes may be instructive:

    “It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.” – John Adams, “A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787).

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned: yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.” – Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVII (1782)

    • JohnE
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      To clarify, the phrase “employed in that service” in the Adams quote refers to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

  15. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The argument that “IGWT” on money is “ceremonial deism” fails to account for the equally ceremonial nature of “E Pluribus Unum”, and thus how “IGWT” could be chosen over “EPU”, 150 years after the founding of the United States.

  16. randy Bessinger
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Someone representing the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) should sue for equal time.

  17. FB
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Is there a law that forbids to display a twelve inches wide by twelve inches wide question mark on a cafeteria or school entryway wall?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Maybe the schools should put the plaque where the British kept the portrait of George Washington according to the Ethan Allen story old Honest Abe told in Lincoln. 🙂

  18. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    As FFRF principal founder Anne Gaylor always pointed out, the religious motto isn’t even correct: “To be accurate it would have to read ‘In God Some of Us Trust,’ and wouldn’t that be silly?”

    I have to disagree with Anne here. She doesn’t specify which god some people trust.

    • Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      In some God some of us trust some of the time. Kind of catchy.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Or…

        “In some kind of ill-defined supernatural entity(that religious people commonly call ‘god’) some of us trust some of the time(although experimental trials demonstrate that even the most religious people tend not to trust in said supernatural entity in a genuine emergency, so ‘trust’ should be taken with a pinch of salt)”

        Stick that on your fucking signpost you bastards.

  19. Carl
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’ve been embattled most of my life against the religious and their ideas. In the last few years, not nearly so much. The turning point was the “new atheists” coming on the scene. Public attitudes about and toward non-believers changed so much that I felt victorious. We now have a place at the table. The religious are on the defensive, and I see this South Dakota foolishness as a sign of that.

    I do find ignorant statements claiming “the United States was founded on Judaeo-Christian principles” quite annoying. As my favorite book says:

    Once upon a time it may have seemed reasonable to fear that the loss of religion would destroy everything in a bonfire of nihilism. But today we don’t really need to wonder what a society founded on the principles of atheism would look like. We just need to understand aright the history of the United States.

    Stewart, Matthew. Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (p. 313). W. W. Norton & Company.

  20. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    From Section 2 of “The Act”:

    For any lawsuit brought … against a school district … as a result of a school district displaying
    the national motto … the attorney general
    shall provide legal representation at no cost to the school district[.]

    Good to know that, with so many South Dakotans getting hammered by Trump’s tariff wars, the state government has money to waste on frivolous litigation.

    Ain’t makin’ South Dakotans like George McGovern anymore, I reckon. Give me a preacher’s kid could run on a slogan of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” (not really, of course; that was some BS pushed by Nixon’s dirty tricksters, though it sounded like a pretty solid presidential platform to an 18-year-old first-time voter like me 🙂 ).

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    “Gen Z” — how come the generation before them gets two names: Gen Y and Millennials? We Boomers made do with one. If one was good enough for those of us born in the late Forties and the Fifties and the early Sixties, one name oughta be plenty for them. #MAGA.

    And why two Dakotas? Remove that state line, we could get rid of a coupla electoral college votes they’ve got no rightful claim to.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      It’s not lost on Gen X that you forgot about us….again.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        The “Lost Generation” — isn’t that what Gertrude Stein called Fitzgerald and Hemingway and that gang of American ex-pats hanging out on the Rive Gauche?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      If one was good enough for those of us born in the late Forties and the Fifties and the early Sixties, one name oughta be plenty for them.

      Very Telford-ian argument that. One name per person should be quite enough.

  22. Blue
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    in re “I’m not sure exactly why the forces
    of Christianity are trying TO PUSH this kind
    of stuff on us MORE THAN EVER,” Ms Margaret
    Atwood and Posse ‘ve THE ANSWER.

    Nationwide, if not also Worldwide, no matter
    the alleged rise in secularism … …
    .this.: BY The Commanders within some of the last, and of the present, political and social
    spheres nationally and globally, .this. is … …
    G I L E A D … … in the making.

    Mark her / Ms Atwood’s words.

    Or not. At one’s own peril.

    Blue

    • Blue
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      from Ms Atwood herself ~a year ago ONLY:

      “Nations never build apparently radical forms
      of government on foundations that … …
      AREN’T THERE ALREADY; thus China replaced
      a state bureaucracy with a similar state
      bureaucracy under a different name,
      the USSR replaced the dreaded imperial
      secret police with an even more dreaded
      secret police, and so forth. The deep
      foundation of the United States — so went
      my thinking — was not the comparatively
      recent 18th-century Enlightenment structures
      of the Republic, with their t a l k of equality
      and their separation of Church and State,
      but the heavy-handed theocracy of 17th-
      century Puritan New England — with its
      MARKED BIAS AGAINST WOMEN — WHICH WOULD NEED
      ONLY THE OPPORTUNITY OF A PERIOD OF SOCIAL
      CHAOS TO REASSERT ITSELF. ” as in … NOW.

      https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on-how-she-came-to-write-the-handmaids-tale

      Blue

  23. Jon Gallant
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    We of the church of the FSM try to be accommodating. Therefore, instead of bringing suit against the new South Dakota law, our civil action will merely demand that the motto on school cafeteria walls receive a small clarification, and read: “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      The church of the FSM should avoid school cafeterias altogether unless they want to see sacrilegious acts of spaghetti-eating by godless students. The horror

  24. Mark R.
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if people who embrace IGWT ever ponder what it actually means. What do they trust g*d to do? Make them rich? Keep them safe or healthy? Keep heaven open? Maybe they trust g*d to send jeebus back to create their fever dream: the rapture. It’s as stupid as it is meaningless.

    America just keeps spinning deeper and deeper down the toilet…and Trump and his minions can’t seem to flush fast enough.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      To keep an eye on the gold reserves at Fort Knox? To preserve the “full faith and credit” of the USA?

      Maybe they should’ve taken the motto off the bills when Nixon took us off the gold standard.

  25. Steve Gerrard
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m inclined to think that one square foot of wall space for this is not going to affect the kids a whole lot, and they are the ones it is presumably aimed at. They are inundated with this kind of sloganeering every day, and quickly learn to ignore it or mock it.

    I remember reciting “I-pledge-allegiance-to-the-rag-of-the-untied-snakes-of-a-merry-cow” back in grade school, and I turned out okay.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      The religious lawmakers aren’t stupid though: they know that that’s the case. So why did they still push this through?

      Because it’s a sign of religious authority that will sit in the back of the minds of every pupil there. It’s a way of injecting the idea
      that America is a religious country into the children’s bloodstream.
      The fact that the secular kids will ignore it and mock it isn’t the point: it will still be there, as a message, and it will still reinforce the belief that America is a religious country. When they next think about raising their voices about some first amendment issue that sign will be one of the jumble of things that will influence their decision to do so or to keep quiet.

      …And it’ll be there every single weekday, during the most intellectually and emotionally labile period in their lives.

      The religious lawmakers believe exactly what you believe, but they still pushed this law through. That should tell us something.

  26. David
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    The South Dakota legislation is part of a campaign led by groups called The Congressional Prayer Caucus and Wallbuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. Called Project Blitz, the foundation document can be found here:

    https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2019-01/Project%20Blitz%20Playbook%202018-19.pdf

    The section relevant to the National Motto Display Act begins on page 10. Similar bills have passed in half a dozen states and each successive bill builds on the bills that have already passed. The goal, as others have stated, is to further the Christian Nation agenda with bills promoting religious freedom. From the Overview to the Playbook,
    “Measures in Category #1 mainly recognize the place of Christian principles in our nation’s history and heritage. They deal broadly with our national motto, history, and civics, including their Judeo-Christian dimensions.
    Despite arguments that this type of legislation is not needed, measures such as the “In God We Trust” bill can have enormous impact. Even if it does not become law, it can still provide the basis to shore up later support for other governmental entities to support religious displays. For example, the U.S. House passed “In God We Trust” legislation in November 2011; even though it never passed the Senate nor was signed into law by the President, it still had a significant ripple effect on subsequent measures, policies, and agency actions.”
    The National Motto legislation is seen as an opening salvo, frequently followed by a bill mandating that each school district provide an elective course on religion that is heavily focused on the Old and New Testaments in specifically allowed/authorized translations. See Page 22 of the Playbook. Next comes religious freedom legislation. It’s scary and they are winning in a lot of states. They admit that part of their strategy is Whackamole, forcing AU, the ACLU, FFRF, and others to divide resources.

    It should be noted that here in Florida the legislature passed legislation requiring all public schools to display the national motto and then required (without appropriating) millions of dollars to be spent to prevent terrorist attacks on schools.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      an elective course on religion that is heavily focused on the Old and New Testaments

      That is going to require some major trigger warnings. All the selling of women and girls children into sexual slavery, the genocide of conquered males (above, below and within “fighting age”), the polygamy, the idolatry … Certainly reading the bible is a good warning against listening to voices in your head.

    • Matt
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Website for Blitz Watch
      https://www.blitzwatch.org/

      Includes legislation tracker.

  27. Jim batterson
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    K12 education is the responsibility ofthe states…a tenth amendment thing. State boards of education promulgate all public school policies, sometimes forced by state general assembly legislstion. However as we saw in brown vs board of education and some follow-on state cases such as charlotte mecklinburg, the supreme court does have jurisdiction regarding constitutionality of state legislation. For example in my state of virginia, home to thomas jefferson and the first statementof religious freedom that served as a basis for the nation, the currentrepublican general assembly could pass a law like theone in south dakota, but hopefully the democratic state attorney general or some group or person with standing would sue, eventually rising to the supreme court. Presumablysouth dakota will be solved this way. Of course that assumes some faith in the supremes who unfortunately have been invertebrates on the in god we trust stuff in recent years. So lets stay tuned. I am clearly not an attorney, but did serve eight years on a local school board in the 80s and 90s.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      … the supreme court does have jurisdiction regarding constitutionality of state legislation.

      ‘Swhat the “Supremacy Clause” in Article 6 of the US constitution is all about.

  28. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted July 29, 2019 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    In schools? With teenagers? Seriously?
    This slogan is really begging to be improved upon, as multiple examples above have shown. Teenagers will not be able to resist, the temptation will just be too great.
    Are these schools going to install 24/7 security cameras? Or what? And even then….

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 30, 2019 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      Are these schools going to install 24/7 security cameras? Or what?

      I thought they already had them – along with under-paid security guards to carry spare weapons for the planned mass shooting spree. Or, indeed, the basic weapons for a spur-of-the-moment shooting spree.
      You can’t have children going around growing up without a feeling of terror and existential dread, otherwise they might think before voting for a false promise of “security”.

      • darrelle
        Posted July 30, 2019 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        I don’t know how it works in other jurisdictions but in the county I live in, in Florida, 1 or more actual, real deal, police officers are stationed at all public schools full time. I don’t think doing this is necessarily a bad thing. It could be a good thing. It all depends on the purposes they are there for and the execution of it.

        I don’t think it is done well here. Here these police are routinely used to discipline students. I think that is completely wrong. Disciplining students is the job of teachers, deans and principals. Or at least it used to be. It’s pretty ridiculous to call in the police to put a grade school girl in hand-cuffs and drag her from the classroom kicking and screaming because she wasn’t listening to her teacher.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          That would be about a quarter of the day-shift of the uniformed police force here. Maybe a third – I’m not sure how many schools there are, but I can see the size of the cop shop’s car park.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Although South Africa is not really naive of violence -to put it mildly-, there are no, or very few, schools with 24/7 police presence. How wide spread is this practice?
          Note, I still think these teenagers will not be able to resist the temptation to improve that -let us call it what it is- nonsensical slogan. If I think back how I was as a teenager, I would be obsessed by improving the slogan, with eg. some spray paint. (Yes, I did still believe more or less in some kind of God on those days, but I definitely did not trust Him).

          • darrelle
            Posted August 2, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know how widespread it is nationally in the US, but in the public school district that I live in, in the state of Florida, it is standard policy. One or more regular police officers are assigned to every public school full time.

            These police officers are titled “Resource Officers.” I have no idea what that means. I do know that school staff (teachers, deans, principals, etc.) no longer take the responsibility to maintain discipline of the students as was the norm throughout all of my schooling. These days, in my school district, they very commonly use the “Resource Officers” to discipline the kids. Criminally fucking stupid if you ask me.

            • rickflick
              Posted August 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              In the school I subbed in that was not the case. The cop was just there to suppress violence. For example, a male graduate came to the main door to see a female student. He exhibited high emotion. The “resource officer” was called and he calmed the kid at the door and persuaded him to get lost. Teachers handled the normal day-to-day rules infractions.

  29. Matt
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    They’re trying to do this in Pennsylvania, too. Text from the proposed bill:

    (6) To increase student understanding of and familiarity with American historical documents, historically important excerpts from or copies of the documents should be prominently displayed in public school buildings.

    (7) The Federal 5th, 9th and 10th Circuit Courts have ruled that displaying the national motto passes constitutional muster so long as the purpose of the display is to advance or endorse the national motto rather than a particular religious belief or practice.

    Aw, isn’t that nice of them?

  30. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted July 30, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    How good are the chances, now that the Cold War is over (30th anniversary of it being over in a few months), to return to the real US National Motto “E Pluribus Unum”?
    If you read up a bit on Mr Eisenhower, he was, as a military, an absolute preparation freak, he never ever trusted ‘God’ to help him.

  31. Andy Taylor
    Posted August 16, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    While I fully admit that it is a violation of the first amendment, The reason for the push from Christianity is probably attributed to the constant attempts for everyone who are anti-Christian attempting to remove religious items from the public eye. For government to remove religious monuments from the public is a violation of the first amendment as well!

    • Posted August 16, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry but I don’t understand. You admit that this is a violation of the First Amendment, which it is, but then say that “government removing religious monuments from the public” (presumably like taking the Ten Commandments out of courthouse lawns) IS a violation of the First Amendment. But it isn’t: government cannot favor one religion (Judeo Christian religions in that case) over others, so removing the Commandments is in fact dictated by the First Amendment.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 16, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      There is no attempt to remove religious monument other than on government property. If they are on private property, there isn’t an issue of the government endorsing religion.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 16, 2019 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        BTW, schools are government property.


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