(Photo: UpNorthLive Screenshot)
A Michigan school board has decided to restore "In God we trust" to a school sign.
After the Pine River Area District in Osceola County merged two elementary schools, it created a new sign showcasing its new identity. In the corner of the sign, the artist painted the United States' motto, In God we trust.
The school's superintendent Jim Ganger said the artist had no intention of making a political or religious statement, but was merely including a trademark he had repeated in all of his pieces.
"He didn't do it to promote or inhibit religion in any way," Ganger told UpNorthLive. "It's just part of his work. It was totally innocent."
Yet the Pine River Area School Board received complaints from people who felt the school was indoctrinating students. The district's attorneys recommended that the artist fill in the design.
This move promptly frustrated others in the community who asked why the country's motto had been removed.
On Dec. 9, the board heard from members on both sides of the issue, and ultimately invoked the Supreme Court's "lemon test" to reach its unanimous conclusion.
The superintendent said that the board's decision closed the case.
"The board voted and we're going to live with that. As a district we're going to move forward," said Ganger.
Ron Schalow, Pine River trustee, said that he did not believe the sign promoted any type of religion.
"That motto could discuss Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or no religion at all," said Ron Schalow, Pine River trustee. "If it's the national motto, it should be there. We see that as a generic representation in the words of the motto, not advancing or prohibiting any particular religious thought or belief."
Paul Roose, who supported restoring the sign, also found the value of the sign apart from any religious connotations.
"Those things that our nation has been founded on are important for all of us," Roose said.
Ganger said that he would be in contact with the sign's artist to restore "In God we trust" to the painting.