A 2021 Texas law goes into effect this year. It requires public schools to display “In God We Trust” posters in public spaces.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Texas students may notice new religious signs in their public schools this fall. A law passed in 2021 goes into effect this year requiring public schools to display “In God We Trust” posters in public spaces if donated to the school or purchased with money from donations. 

On June 21, 2021, an amendment to the Texas Education Code, co-sponsored by Republican State Senator Bryan Hughes, went into effect. The amendment to Code 1.004 stated public schools may use private funds to finance the amendment, but: 

Must display in a conspicuous place in each building of the school or institution a durable poster or framed copy of the United States national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ if the poster or framed copy meets the requirements…” and “Must contain a representation of the United States flag centered under the national motto and a representation of the state flag.

Mr. Hughes tweeted on 8/17:

The national motto, In God We Trust, asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God. I co-authored the bill in 2003 that allowed schools to display the motto, and last year I authored the ‘In God We Trust Act’, which requires a school to display the motto.

Many civil rights activists were disturbed by the new law and the potential precedent it may set for other states. As Samira Asma-Sadeque noted, “While the phrase does not explicitly mention any specific religion, many argue that ‘In God We Trust’ has long been used as a tool to forward Christian nationalism.” 

Texas is not the first state to require the motto. In 2019, a law was signed by Kristi Noem which required the national motto of the United States to be displayed in public schools.

The reaction among the nontheistic has been written about in detail here last Friday by Hemant Mehta. Mehta writes: 

I suggested that a similar poster could be designed with the word ‘God’ in lighter print, almost invisible to the naked eye. Or schools could display another poster next to the donated religious ones, saying non-Christians and non-religious students were welcome there, too, or perhaps just showcasing the Establishment Clause.

Mehta added that although the law was designed to further Christian nationalism, atheists could challenge the spirit of the law by doing things such as sending “In God We Trust” signs written in Arabic

Laws mandating religious imagery or signage in schools, such as the one passed in Texas, come at a time of increased Christian nationalism in Republican campaigns

David Weidman is the regional coordinator for SMART Recovery (Self-Management And Recovery Training) in Los Angeles with over 5,000 hours of in-person meetings for sufferers and their loved ones. SMART...

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments