The Blount County school board in Alabama is poised to allow the motto “In God We Trust,” which is printed on U.S. currency, to appear in its schools, following action by the state legislature last month approving the maxim for government buildings.
When the school board does act, it will have joined in a decades-long struggle about what role public expressions of religion should play in American society.
Since at least the Supreme Court decision Engel v. Vitale in 1962 that banned prayer in public schools, there has been a culture war over what role faith should play in society, with advocates on each side arguing religion does or does not belong in the “public square.”
Naturally, the Blount County school board expects legal challenges.
Blount School Superintendent Rodney Green told news website Al.com that a policy could be crafted within the next month, with the advice of an attorney.
“You would think that something that passes the Legislature won’t be challenged in the courtroom but we all know that it can and probably will,” Green said.
Blount County will be following the lead of neighboring Tennessee, which in March passed a law requiring that “In God We Trust” be displayed in all public schools.
Meanwhile, on Nov. 6, Alabama voters will decide on a referendum that will allow the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings.
Those seeking greater public religious expression have no doubt been encouraged by President Donald Trump’s example.
For instance, in his speech to the National Prayer Breakfast in February, Trump explained that our rights “come from our Creator.”
“That is why the words ‘Praise be to God’ are etched atop the Washington Monument, and those same words are etched into the hearts of our people,” he said.