'In God We Trust' Motto Sparks Debate in Minnesota

"In God We Trust" has been the official motto of the United States since the 50s, but when a Minnesota lawmaker proposed for the phrase to be displayed in public schools, the bill met some resistance. Two Democratic state senators had something to say about the national motto, as well.

A State Senate Committee met last April to hold an informational hearing on the bill, which includes, among others, a national movement aimed at encouraging public schools to display a poster with the motto "In God We Trust" in a prominent place.

All such displays would be paid for with private funds, as CBS Minnesota noted. Senator Dan Hall, who is the author of the bill, described the proposal as a reminder of respect.

"God and country is no longer lifted up in a place of honor like it once was. And in part, it seems to be eliminated from our schools. There are those who are afraid to even bring up God and country in our schools," Hall said.

It was a proposal that has also seen vehement resistance from atheist groups. "It's not the state's business, and it's not the school's business, to be taking sides in this very personal decision," August Berkshire of Minnesota Atheists pitched in.

"In God We Trust" is the national motto adopted in 1956 to replace the unofficial motto, "E Pluribus Unum," which was adopted as part of the Great Seal of the United States. The phrase has officially been made part of American currency since 1957, although it has appeared on coins as early as 1864.

The same motto has also been adopted as the official state motto of Florida in 2006.

It's also the same phrase that is causing some lawmakers no small discomfort, as two Democratic state senators took it upon themselves to prevent "In God We Trust" from being put up in public schools.

"The money in my wallet has to say 'In God We Trust.' I think that's offensive," Sen. John Marty said in opposition to the proposed bill.

"I'm wondering if Sen. [Dan] Hall would feel the same if students walked in and instead of the word 'God' the word 'Allah' -- which is the word for God in the Muslim religion -- welcomes students to their schools," Sen. Scott Dibble also said, as quoted by Fox News.

Sen. Dan Hall, for his part, seems to be a bit puzzled by this vehement opposition to the school posters. "I just figured the opposition would be really short," he said.

"When I started hearing more and more of this I thought, really? They don't want it that much in their schools?" the senator mused. He added that the mention of God in schools has become controversial mainly due to an "anti-faith movement" in the country.

In the end, the Senate bill passed 42-25. The bill is now in the hands of the Minnesota Education Finance Committee.

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