HARRISBURG — A Christian lawmaker in Pennsylvania has introduced a bill that would require the phrase ‘In God We Trust’ to be posted in public schools throughout the Commonwealth.
Rick Saccone of Allegheny County has been known in Pennsylvania for sponsoring bills surrounding the acknowledgment of God in American history.
As previously reported, he was behind a bill that declared 2012 “The Year of the Bible” in the Commonwealth. The resolution stated that not only has the Bible been an important part of the nation’s history, but that in difficult times such as the present, there is a “national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
Saccone, a Baptist, had also introduced a bill earlier this year that honored the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a National Fast Day. The resolution overwhelmingly passed the Pennsylvania House 160 to 35, and was co-sponsored by over 25 representatives.
Now, Saccone has introduced a bill that would require schools throughout the state to post the motto “In God We Trust” in some form on school campuses. Dubbed the National Motto Display Act, the legislation seeks to recognize the 150th anniversary of the phrase being displayed on American currency by then-Pennsylvania Governor James Pollock. A news release from Saccone’s office outlines that the bill seeks to “promote patriotism through the display of the national motto and to educate children about an important but overlooked part of Pennsylvania’s heritage.”
“James Pollock was a towering figure in Pennsylvania history, first serving in Congress and then becoming an extraordinarily influential governor in the 19th Century,” Saccone stated. “Later, while serving as director of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, Pollock introduced the words ‘In God We Trust’ to our coins. They’ve been an important part of American culture and identity ever since.”
He also noted that Francis Scott Key used the motto in the patriotic standard “The Star Spangled Banner” in 1814. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower officially declared the phrase to be the official motto of the United States and ordered that it be inscribed on all American currency.
“Our youth need to hear the story of our heritage and learn from positive role models in a time of decaying values,” Saccone opined. “The story of our national motto is a positive story and one that is uniquely Pennsylvanian.”
Saccone’s bill would require that a plaque or other artwork bearing the motto be posted in schools throughout the Commonwealth. He says that the majority of his constituents are in support of the proposal.
“It’s 500-to-1 back home,” he told the Associated Press. “People are for it.”
While Saccone recognizes that there will likely be opposition from some groups that wish to keep God out of schools, he believes that schools have the right to recognize a part of Pennsylvania history just as much as any other type of message.
“So they can have Harry Potter on the walls, zombies and witches on brooms, but not the national motto?” he asked the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It would just be posted in the building somewhere so the kids know what the story is behind it. It’s about teaching history.”
The bill passed the House Education Committee this week 14-9 almost entirely across party lines. It will now move on to the full House for a vote.