State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

A call to put "God" in school, by way of motto

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 29, 2013 9:20 PM
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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

When state House lawmakers return to Harrisburg in mid-November, they’ll be faced with a proposal to display “In God We Trust” in every public school building.

Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny), the proposal’s sponsor, said it should be uncontroversial. “In God We Trust” has been printed on the country’s coins since the 1860s. It was adopted as the country’s motto in 1956 by a Democratically-controlled Congress.

The bill requiring it to be displayed in schools isn’t written like most pieces of legislation. It’s less of a legalistic litany of definitions, and more of a historical narrative of “In God We Trust” in government.

It was a Pennsylvanian however, that installed those words on our coins. James Pollock from Milton, Pennsylvania, became our 13th governor serving from 1855 to 1858. He was known as "The Great Christian Governor."

Saccone said he was trying to provide some historical context.

“Many people don’t know what our motto is. Many adults don’t know what our national motto is, let alone our children,” said Saccone. “So it’s a good history lesson, it’s a good civics lesson, just like we honor the flag every day and say the pledge of allegiance.” He’s not proposing to add the history of the motto to teachers’ lesson plans – just that the motto itself be displayed “prominently.” The legislation suggests that could be in the form of a mounted plaque or a student’s art project.

Saccone said it shouldn’t cost schools anything.

“They can display it any way they want. They can have one of their art classes make a drawing of it and put it up – any way that they want to do it,” he said. “There’s a million ways to do this that won’t cost them a penny.”

His proposal includes no plan for enforcement.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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