A bill that would place “In God We Trust” in many public buildings was passed 38 to 26 in the Colorado House on Wednesday.
House bill 1128 directs state institutions, public schools and political subdivisions to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in each public building and public school classroom in the state.
“It does not promote unity, just the opposite,” said state representative Angie Paccione. “It’s not a religious origin that unites us. We unite as one under the flag.”
Paccione, who voted against it, spoke passionately against the bill.
“I’ve been a Christian for 23 years, it’s not about my faith, it’s about separation of church and state,” she said.
The bill will go to the Senate next. Ken Arnold, the senator representing the 23rd district and one of the senate sponsors, estimated that it will probably be a few weeks before there is a vote there.
“(The bill) just more or less puts forth what our nation was founded under,” Arnold said. “I don’t think it hurts to put forth some of the things this nation was founded for and why is was founded.”
Paccione fears people would see this as unwelcoming and divisive.
“There are other people who look at that sign and feel it doesn’t welcome them,” she said. “We need to make sure all people feel welcome in all places.”
Arnold said he doesn’t understand where the opposition is coming from.
“If you read a Marlboro sign, do you have to smoke?” Arnold said. “They still have the freedom to worship the god of their choice.”
Paccione said the government should not promote one religion but support the right to practice any or none.
“The purpose of the government is not to promote any faith, but to allow all of them,” she said.
“We’re not establishing a religion,” said Senator Bruce Cairns, who represents the 28th district and is also a Senate sponsor. “We’re not asking somebody to post ‘In Baptists we trust.’ The word ‘god’ means a lot of different things to a lot of different people so I don’t see how somebody would feel intimidated at all.”
Arnold argues that “In God We Trust” is in American’s lives in many ways, from the Pledge of Allegiance to the currency.
“‘In God We Trust’ is in most everything we do,” Arnold said. “Why shouldn’t it be in our buildings?”
“In God We Trust,” was initially adopted as the national motto in the 1954, Cairns said.
Arnold said the bill has been floating around for several sessions, but just now made it this far.
“We have Republican control and, not to take anything away from the Democrats, I think the Republicans are more inclined to believe there is a supreme being,” Arnold said.
The plaques would come from donations from groups and individuals so the bill will not financially burden anybody.
Paccione said she is hoping someone will continue to fight the bill as it is being voted on in the Senate.
“We have to be careful that we are not doing this out of fear,” she said.
The bill says its purpose is to “foster patriotism, express confidence in the future, inculcate hope, instruct in humility, acknowledge the historical role of faith in our society, and encourage the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society.”
Cairns said that in light of current world problems, he sees the bill as especially important.
“Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea with problems of drought and war to invoke the divine,” Cairns said.
Computer information systems senior Shawn Leingang said supports the bill, but also supports those who don’t believe in God.
“It’s fine, I am religious,” he said. “If you don’t want to believe it, it’s fine.”
Though he supported the bill but said the signs should be bilingual.
“If they put it in English, they should put it in Spanish too, it should be equal,” he said. “It seems like they are trying to separate society.”
Collegian reporter Shandra Jordan contributed to this report.