On Friday the state legislature took initial steps toward passing a bill that would make all Colorado public schools display the words, “in God we trust.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said the motto is an important show of support for American soldiers who put themselves in harm’s way. She also said displaying the motto is as significant as flying the flag.
Well, the flag represents the country in which we live and the motto endorses religion, which is something prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment begins: “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Aside from the apparent unconstitutionality of this potential bill, it has other social ramifications.
Not everyone believes in a God. There are plenty of children and parents in our public school system who resent being indoctrinated with religion on any level, let alone by a state-sponsored declaration in our public schools.
Further, this motto would alienate those students who don’t “trust” in God.
Stafford did amend the bill to not require state officials to purchase plaques; rather, the bill would require the plaques be donated from private groups or individuals, which would come at no cost to taxpayers.
However, with so many problems ailing public schools in Colorado, why is this even a priority? Can’t Stafford, and others who support this proposal, find ways to ease a statewide financial crunch that is suffocating education in our state? How about asking for private donations to purchase new computers or textbooks?
Finally, why would we force state education institutions to have this motto? Forcing people is not the American way. America stands for freedom and liberty; forcing slogans or oaths or anything is something more common to states like, say, China.
Rep. Paul Weissmann, a Boulder Democrat who opposes the proposal, summed it up best.
“As we continue to mandate things like this, the meaning is totally lost.”