Originally created 07/11/00

'In God We Trust'



It's surprising that someone didn't think sooner to challenge the "keep God out of school crowd" the way Colorado has. That state's Board of Education voted 5-1 to urge local school districts to prominently post the words, "In God We Trust," in school buildings.

The board's resolution was in response to court decisions, spurred by U.S. Supreme Court rulings, driving any hint of faith-based messages out of public places, including the nation's public schools. Just last month the top court banned student-led prayers at football games.

Clearly, Colorado's move is an in-your-face challenge to majority justices who, according to their dissenting colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia, "bristle with hostility to all things religious in public life."

The high court has never been confronted with a direct challenge to the "In God We Trust" motto, which has been engraved on the coin of the realm since the 19th century.

If the motto spreads like kudzu in schools and other public places across the nation, it's hard to see how the American Civil Liberties Union - which as a "take-no-prisoners" attitude about religious messages - could resist taking up the challenge.

That would be a good thing. The Supreme Court has been all over the place with its separation of church and state doctrine. It's time the court confronted its own contradictions. If public prayers are banned in schools and courthouses, why not also on the floor of Congress or the Supreme Court chambers itself?

The Founding Fathers never envisioned the Constitution prohibiting prayer in public settings. What they sought in the First Amendment was a ban on Congress (but not state legislatures) backing one religion over another.

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are suffused with references to God. Those are legal documents, too. Would the ACLU and a Supreme Court majority delete God from them as well? Let's trust in God they won't.