New Texas law requires display of donated "In God We Trust" posters

Texas public schools required to display “In God We Trust” posters if they are donated (

My reaction:

(1) Face-palm.

(2) “In God We Trust” is not true. Our government, our culture, and the American people are not characterized by any sort of consistent trust in God. Far from it. We are a mixture of many beliefs and non-beliefs.

(2) U.S. courts have at times stated that the motto does not violate the Constitution because it is simply “ceremonial” and traditional, devoid of religious meaning. [This has been my understanding. Please correct me if this is not an accurate summary.] For Bible-affirming Christians, to claim “In God We Trust” as mere ceremony and tradition is a blasphemous use of the name of God, especially if that statement of trust is not sincere and demonstrated in how the sign-toters live.

(3) What exactly does putting up “In God We Trust” signs convey to young people? I would love to poll public school students to find out.

I think some would say that they understand the message as “We casually talk about God because it makes us feel good—and perhaps even superior to those who don’t share our views.” Others will assume it an empty far right slogan meant to show how much political power they flex in conservative Texas.

I could go on. I won’t.

Obviously, I am not a fan of this new law.


This law will, of course, be struck down at every level it is challenged until it gets to the Supreme Court. But at that point, who knows? This particular court has yet to indicate it has the slightest interest in protecting the religious freedom of anyone other than Christians.


Yeah, I am not sure this would go well in the current Supreme Court. The recent Bremerton case showed that the Court is a fan of over-the-top publicly-funded displays of Christian faith in coercive contexts, so why would this be any different?


The legal ‘principle’ here is what is referred to as Ceremonial deism. I would be strongly suspect that few, if anybody, making this claim actually believe it, it is simply a convenient (if rather flimsy) excuse for violating the Establishment Clause.

That the phrase was only adopted as the official US motto in 1956, and that it was challenged as early as 1970 (in Aronow v. United States, a mere 14 years later) demonstrates that it was hardly “traditional” (or “deemed to be mere ritual and non-religious through long customary usage”) at that time.

That it, along with the insertion of “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, was made in the middle of the 1950s, at the height of the Cold War, and were both widely considered to be attempts to distinguish the US from the Soviet Union’s “godless communism”, gives a lie to the claim that they were intended to be merely “ceremonial” rather than an explicit establishment of (Christian) religion.

This legal fig-leaf has led to further legal fictions such as that a 40 foot cross somehow ceases to become an Establishment Clause-breaking religious symbol with time. It has even led to the impression that it okay for Supreme Court Justices to lie about the conduct under consideration in order to rule in favour of religious conduct.


I’ve been the student in classrooms where it was mandated that a display of religion be made. My high school years in Pennsylvania public schools were before the Supreme Court school prayer ruling. There was a state law that every day 10 verses of the Old Testament be read. This happened in home room period. Boy, did we hear the first 10 verses of Genesis a lot! The message to a nonbelieving student was very clear. In this country, kid, it is normal to be Christian or Jewish. To be anything else is abnormal, and the full weight of the state will make sure you know that.

Oh yes, and the idea that “In God we trust” is not religious but “purely ceremonial” is ludicrous. Otherwise why does the Religious Right get so upset when it is not there?


It is, in fact, a big fat lie. A falsehood stated knowing that it is false. Which ironically seems to violate the very idea that the statement expresses. Follow God’s laws, except the one about telling big fat lies, that one God is okay with you deliberately violating when you want to force others to adhere to your religious rules.

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Absolutely right. And even as a non-Christian, non-Jewish kid in Seattle in the 1960s and 70s, where we had no weird religious rites in the schools beyond the offensive “under God” in the Pledge, that feeling was still somewhat in the air. Social pressure is enormously weighty, and it takes very little to get a coercive message across.

The current Court has gone far, far over to the anti-American side on this, and that Bremerton case is truly alarming. A few years ago you said something on PT about not being sure about Justice Roberts if the creation/evolution question went to the Court, and I think I responded somewhat to the effect that Roberts might not be a problem. But we now have five definite anti-American anti-constitutionalists on the Court who are red-hot for forcing religion down the throats of children, plus Roberts as a “maybe.” Everything – including the gross offense of creationism, ID or otherwise – is potentially on the table now.


Texas public schools required to display “In God We Trust” posters if they are donated.

I don’t see anything in that law specifying which side of the poster should be displayed. :wink:


Who decides which posters get mounted? What if they are in, say, Chinese or Japanese? What if the content doesn’t toe the radical conservative Christian party line?

So many ways this could go …

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If they were honest, the posters would say:

In God we do not trust.

If governor Abbot actually trusted God, he would not be insisting on these posters.

Although I harbored thoughts of having posters printed with a crescent, or a picture of one of the Hindu gods, and sending these to Texas schools as a donation, I am disappointed to find that they did think of this. The law specifies that the words, a US flag, and a Texas flag, be on the poster and that it may not depict any other words, images or information. Doggone it. It doesn’t say in what language the words must appear, though references in the law to this being the official motto probably imply English.

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Do you think Texas would reject “En Dios Confiamos”? Wouldn’t that run the risk of alienating an important voting block?

So is the idea that if the posters are donated and no public funds are involved, this does not therefore count as state endorsement of religion?

I have to say, as a Canadian non-lawyer it seems to me under ordinary circumstances it would laughed out of court. But under current circumstances, I am not sure the Supreme Court would not heartily endorse even a law that included the text "… 'cuz this is a CHRISTIAN NATION AND THE ATHEIST LIBTARDS CAN SUCK ON THAT!

Well, @Faizal_Ali, I’m sure you have idiots in Canada, but I am not at all sure that you are acquainted with the brain-damaged depths of a place so badly drained of intellectual oomph that Louie Gohmert can represent it.

Your observations are right, of course. Some utter numbskull thought that the government paying the thirty-seven cents it costs to print such a poster would be constitutionally problematic, but that the government DISPLAYING this theocratic bullshit would not. The reality is that the funding almost certainly could make no difference to the outcome of the litigation. The problem is that so long as, as @Tim has noted above, we allow this obscenity as a “national motto” and regard its imposition on children as “ceremonial” only in nature, it’s fairly likely that a majority of our current Supreme Court would see no problem. I cannot imagine that the 37 cents would count either way on that question.

This land is to be ruled by savages, and it’s likely to be ruled that way for some time, even if we don’t vote the savages into office, due to our disastrous Supreme Court. How long will it take to repair the constitutional damage, if and when we emerge from the darkness? I don’t know, but it’ll be a damned long time.


But it won’t work, no matter how many such measures are validated by the courts. Polling shows that one if the major reasons so many young people give for leaving the churches of the Religious Right is that they pressure society in this way.


I suspect they will see it as just one of those dumb things that grown up people do.

I’m afraid that it will convey to at least some of them (those that were already so inclined) that it is okay to bully their non-Christian classmates (I recently read how a campaign of vitriol and death threats forced a school board to reverse its recent policy of dropping saying the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings).

The claim that such policies are non-coercive is a lie confected through willful blindness. Such policies, especially in the current Trump-fueled political climate, are an open invitation to the basest tribalism in human nature.

I believe the law specifically forbids the poster from containing everything except the motto, the US flag and the Texas flag.

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Well, I hope so. But I suspect it might depend heavily on just how hard-core the local authoritarians are and how much of the public they already have on their side. In the cities, it’s liable to spark lively opposition and pushback. Elsewhere? Harder to say. But it certainly helps to strengthen the case that there is no stable modus vivendi between fundamentalism and civilization.


You just need to get sneaky. I’d suggest sending out lots of posters like this:


Or if some-one decides the coloured text letters constitute another word, try this:


I’m sure the pupils will notice.

Failing that, how about judicious use of off-putting colours and fonts? Hot pink ‘Comic sans’ on a blood red backdrop comes to mind…


Ha! Marvelous. You might even find a few schools that would choose to post that instead of the standard alternatives.