Nobody has proposed changing the national motto, but the House is set Tuesday to vote on a bill that assure that the phrase “In God We Trust” stays put.
The measure, which is sponsored by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), would encourage public buildings, schools and government facilities to display the phrase. It declares that “In God We Trust” and sentiments behind it have been an “integral” part of the United States, and “in times of national challenge or tragedy, the people of the United States have turned to God as their source for sustenance, protection, wisdom, strength, and direction.”
The bill “sends a message that 'In God We Trust' is not only written in the halls of our federal buildings, but it is a bedrock upon which our nation is built,” Forbes said in a statement when the measure passed the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote in March.
The legislation has 64 co-sponsors, including several Democrats such as Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas.
But other Democrats have made their complaints known. In a committee report, five House Democrats – Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Melvin Watt (N.C.) and Judy Chu (Calif.) – said Forbes’s bill “creates unnecessary and excessive government entanglement with religion.”
“We must remember that the United States is comprised of people of many faiths, as well as those who do not hold any religious beliefs, as is their right,” they wrote. “The passage of this resolution would, as Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor warned, send a message to the American people that our government favors religion, and specifically one type of religion over another, in violation of the endorsement test.”
The bill will be voted on under suspension of the rules, which it requires a two-thirds vote from the House for final passage.