LeRoy, MI — A school board in Michigan has voted unanimously to restore the motto ‘In God We Trust’ to a sign at a local elementary school after it was covered up following complaints.
The Pine River School Board approved the restoration on Monday after hearing comments from both sides of the issue.
Due to budget cuts, the district had to consolidate its elementary schools earlier this year, so it decided to have a sign created to reflect the new changes. A 1940’s graduate of the school created the design, which was not reviewed in advance by the district.
Therefore, when some from the community saw that the new Pine River Elementary School sign had the phrase “In God We Trust” in the corner, they complained to the school board.
Superintendent Jim Ganger noted that the artist that created the sign regularly places the motto in his artwork, and said that he did not view its inclusion as the endorsement of any particular religion.
“He didn’t do it to promote or inhibit religion in any way,” Ganger told UpNorth Live. “It’s just part of his work. It was totally innocent.”
Nonetheless, the board decided to discuss the matter with its attorney, who suggested that the motto be covered.
However, when those who support the phrase learned that it had been covered, they likewise complained to the board—and even more so.
“I’ve received probably close to 70 e-mails and a number of e-mails from across the country supporting various positions,” board President Jim Peterson told reporters. “And so, it’s been challenging.”
Therefore, on Monday night, the school board held a meeting to discuss the matter, and heard comments from both sides of the issue. While many opposed the restoration of the motto, the larger outcry came from those who supported the inclusion.
“That motto could discuss Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or no religion at all,” Ron Schalow, Pine River trustee, told reporters. “If it’s the national motto, it should be there. We see that as a generic representation in the words of the motto, not advancing or prohibiting any particular religious thought or belief.”
In the end, the board voted unanimously 7-0 to restore the motto to the sign at Pine River Elementary School.
“Ultimately I came to the decision that it’s certainly the community’s sentiment that they want this to be a part of our schools,” Peterson added. “So as the national motto, I can accept ‘In God We Trust’ as a ceremonial deism, it’s considered patriotic and inspirational.”