A bill presented to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives seeks to make the motto "In God We Trust" more widely used in the state.
The bill would promote the use of the motto in public schools and other government-owned buildings, allowing districts to display "In God We Trust" prominently in classrooms if they choose to, reports the Pocono Record. The bill would let schools know they could display the motto, suggesting that it be placed on a plaque or as part of a student artwork contest.
In 2014, the Pennsylvania House approved a bill that expressly allowed the use of the motto in public schools -- a bill that, in its original incarnation, would have required every public school in the state to prominently display the motto, according to Philly.com. After being met with controversy, the bill's reach was dialed back to allow schools to choose whether they wanted to display "In God We Trust" in classrooms.
At the time that the bill passed in 2014, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone, who sponsored the bill, said that while it was not illegal to display "In God We Trust" in schools even before the bill, many schools feared lawsuits and backlash.
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When the 2014 bill was first introduced, critics argued that the motto promoted religion.
"The last time I checked, God was religious," said Janice Rael, vice president of the Delaware Valley chapter of secular group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, according to The Associated Press.
"The government should be neutral, and with this legislation the government is not neutral, the government is taking a position," Rael argued.
The house has yet to vote on the new bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Chris Dush in 2015. The bill's wording suggests that it is meant to promote the motto for its historical rather than religious significance.
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"To increase student understanding of and familiarity with American historical documents, historically important excerpts from or copies of the documents should be prominently displayed in public school buildings," reads Dush's bill.