West Virginia bill mandates ‘In God We Trust’ in all classrooms

Legislation moving through the House of Delegates could mandate that public schools and universities display the national motto “In God We Trust” in all classrooms.

The bill, Senate Bill 152, allows for donated motto plaques, but provides no funding, potentially burdening schools and universities with signage costs.

Del. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, raised concerns about the thousands of classrooms where the motto must be displayed and questioned the funding sources.

The bill does not specify the cost associated with implementing the requirement, leaving committee members in the dark about the financial implications.

“In God We Trust” must be displayed alongside the U.S. flag in a prominent location, either on a poster or in a frame, according to the legislation.

A Senate version of the bill initially called for plaque placement in every classroom, but the House Education Committee amended it to require signage only in the main school building.

Del. Geoff Foster, R-Putnam, proposed an amendment in the House Judiciary Committee to restore the original Senate language mandating signage in every classroom.

Travis Mollahan, from West Virginia University, noted that implementing the bill would necessitate placing signage in over 700 university rooms.

Facing financial challenges, the university has already cut faculty positions and incurred expenses to comply with a campus carry bill.

Foster suggested using state appropriations to cover the cost of signage in all classrooms, emphasizing its importance regardless of size limitations.

Del. Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, expressed concerns that the requirement might violate the First Amendment by imposing the motto in physical classrooms.

Foster countered by highlighting the widespread presence of the motto in schools through currency circulation, dismissing concerns about potential violations.

The bill advanced to the House floor after the committee’s approval for further consideration, marking the second attempt by the Senate to pass such legislation.

Lead sponsor Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, reintroduced the bill after it failed to secure a House vote the previous year.

Del. David Kelly, R-Tyler, who supported the bill, cautioned against excessively promoting patriotism in schools, emphasizing the importance of personal conduct over symbolic displays.

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