Michigan Government Offices Now Urged to Display 'In God We Trust'

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A Michigan law passed on New Year's Eve will "strongly encourage" state and local government offices to display the U.S. motto, "In God We Trust."

The new law, which was signed by Republican Gov. John Engler and went into effect Monday, "strongly encourages each state agency and unit of local government to exercise their constitutional ability to place the national motto 'In God We Trust' in or on public buildings or land owned or occupied by that state agency or unit of local government."

The American Family Association (AFA) of Michigan announced last month in anticipation of the signing of the bill that it plans to place the motto in every public school classroom in the state, and offered the donation of a framed copy of the motto for each classroom in the Detroit suburbs of Troy and Rochester.

"Especially at a time when our country's values are under attack from abroad, we think that one of the most historical and patriotic values should be communicated to every public school student and in every public building as the legislature and governor have strongly encouraged," said Gary Glenn, president of AFA-Michigan.

Glenn estimated that nearly 1,200 framed copies of "In God We Trust" have been offered to the two school districts.

"We have had encouraging response so far, especially from the Rochester schools," Glenn said.

He added that while the Troy school district has been non-committal so far, officials there wanted to wait until the governor signed the bill into law.

The framed copies of the motto were made possible through the private donations of two individuals in each of the communities, Glenn said.

"We hope to serve as an example," Glenn said. "We hope to place as many copies of the motto in public school classrooms and other public buildings as we can, but even more so as an example for other individuals and organizations and businesses in helping make reality what the legislature and Gov. Engler have strongly encouraged."

The phrase, "In God We Trust" was made the official national motto of the United States on July 30, 1956. However, the U.S. has used the phrase for a much longer period of time.

It originated during the Civil War when Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase requested Congress to pass a law to include the phrase on the 2-cent piece. The 1864 law led to the inclusion of the phrase on many U.S. coins and currencies. "In God We Trust" was made mandatory on all U.S. coins in 1955, according to the U.S. Scouting Service.

Carrie Moss, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said she was disappointed by the passage of the new Michigan law.

"We thought that it was just one more attempt by the conservative right in this state to bring religion into the schools," Moss said. "The conservative right have failed in every other attempt to put religious icons in the schools and this is their new strategy, to try to gradually whittle away at the very clear doctrine from the Supreme Court prohibiting religion in the schools.

"They think that they can use this in the same way that anti-choice groups have whittled away abortion laws by going after minors' rights and putting waiting periods on abortions," she said.

Glenn said the ACLU response was a "knee-jerk, anti-American response and anti-traditional values response."

"We do not expect that the ACLU will take any legal action because they know in advance they will lose," he said. "They have lost every single time that they have raised this issue."

The last time the ACLU challenged the national motto issue, a Kansas judge dismissed the case, calling the suit "patently frivolous," according to the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper and ordered the ACLU and the plaintiff to pay all court costs.

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