Colorado to Put "God" Back in Schools

July 7, 2000

Source: The Denver Post

On July 7, 2000, the Denver Post published an article about the recent Colorado State Board of Education decision to encourage schools to display the national motto "In God We Trust," angering many who see the vote as an effort to bring religion into the classroom. The resolution, passed 5-1 by the Board of Education, is non binding, yet it "immediately drew threats of lawsuits from at least one group that says it will sue if any schools actually post the motto." Supporters say that the motto is a part of America's national heritage, not a religious statement. Supporter and board chairman Clair Orr commented, "How long can we remain a free nation if our youth do not have civic virtue and good moral character and do not know the truth of our American heritage?" Barry Lynn, a Christian minister and director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the resolution "irresponsible because it encourages local schools to engage in a potentially unconstitutional action...Any Colorado school that posts the motto runs the risk of being sued."

Orr expressed surprise at the national attention. "'In God We Trust' is our national motto for Pete's sake...I thought it was timely and appropriate to recognize our national motto just as we recognize the American flag to which we pledge our allegiance and our national anthem which we sing--all of which represent and stand for freedom, yes, and all three mention God, just like the Declaration of Independence. Board member Randy DeHoff added that "we are not compelling anyone in our schools to put their trust in a particular god, any god, or no god at all. We are merely acknowledging the historical traditions of this country and its people." Sue Armstrong, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that her group "will monitor use of the motto to be sure that its use is not religious."