After a debate about whether it’s promoting religion, the state House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to require North Carolina’s public schools to display in a prominent place the words “In God We Trust.”
Supporters of House Bill 965, which passed 94-15, said that the legislation would promote the nation’s history and identity because “In God We Trust” is the national motto. They denied that the bill was an attempt to promote religion in general or Christianity in particular.
“I understand that any time the name of God is mentioned it’s going to be divisive,” said Rep. Bert Jones, a Republican from Rockingham County and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “But I would just remind us that this is the national motto of the United States.”
But critics said the bill sends the message that the state is backing one religion over another because most people will assume it’s referring to Christianity.
“I really do believe that it is in our best interests for our nation for us not to try to promote the triune God through government,” said Rep. Verla Insko, a Democrat from Orange County, referring to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
The bill would require the sign with the message to also include the Latin and English translations of the state motto of “To be rather than to seem.”
All the Republicans voted for the bill while it split Democrats. The bill now goes to the Senate.
North Carolina is considering the legislation at a time when several other states have recently passed bills requiring “In God We Trust” signs to be placed in schools.
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