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South Dakota Forgets What 'Public' Means, Forces Schools To Put Up 'In God We Trust' Signs

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Following the lead of a number of other states, South Dakota has recently passed a bill requiring schools to put up signs everywhere reading "In God We Trust," a move Republican lawmakers is about "history" and "reaffirming" that the United States was founded on "Judeo-Christian values," but is obviously has a lot more to do with making sure that certain students feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in public schools.


The Washington Post reports:

South Dakota's Republican lawmakers said it was about history — the motto appears on money, on license plates and in the fourth stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's also likely to be discussed in the classroom, where historical inquiry is a key part of the state's social studies curriculum.

But legislators said they wanted to make it more clear; they wanted to "reaffirm" it. So this fall, when students return to school, a new and compulsory message will greet them: "In God We Trust." South Dakota joins a growing list of states that force their schools to display the motto.

At least half a dozen passed "In God We Trust" bills last year, and 10 more have introduced or passed the legislation so far in 2019. Similar signage is going up in Kentucky schools this summer, and Missouri could be next.

Clearly, these history geniuses are not familiar with the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams in 1797:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

WHOOPS! It is almost as if the whole "founded on Judeo-Christian principles" thing is just a stupid thing made up by people who want to impose their religion on people who don't practice it, or feel extra special for belonging to the "right" religion.

Claiming that this is about making sure kids learn "history" is pretty absurd, particularly when one of the legislators passing the law in Florida claimed that God personally came to her in a dream and told her that this was a real swell idea. It's obviously about religion, and obviously rooted in the fear that the United States becomes less religious – and less Christian in particular. Right-wing Christians have enjoyed a lot of political influence over the years, and they're not interested in giving that up. So it's important to them to hammer the whole "founded on Judeo-Christian principles" thing home to kids, in hopes that those kids will either convert, or grow up to accept their power and influence as something definitively "American."

Separation of church and state aside... what kind of adult needs to use children and make kids feel bad and uncomfortable in order to make themselves feel good about their own spiritual choices? Can't they just be happy practicing their religion amongst their fellow parishioners? If not, they might want to consider that their religion is not quite fulfilling enough, and that no amount of forcing it on others is going to fill whatever void they're trying to fill with this.

Anyway, this is now your open thread! Enjoy!

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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