A national group promoting the separation of church and state is launching an art competition and poster campaign to protest Kentucky’s new “In God We Trust” law.
The Freedom of Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wis.-based group said it is placing an “eye-catching cartoon” on several billboards in Louisville this week that pokes fun at the law Gov. Matt Bevin signed this year requiring schools public displays the national currency.
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson created the billboard illustration that emphasizes “that there are many different gods that humans have worshiped, not one, and that many choose” none of those here “”, according to a press release from the foundation.
Related: âIn God We Trustâ is required in Kentucky schools. But the displays differ greatly
According to the FFRF, the 10-foot-5 by 22-foot-8-inch billboards are installed in Louisville at the following locations:
- Bardstown Rd and Bonnycastle Ave
- Avenue Barret and Avenue Rufer
- Boulevard du Berry
- Fegenbush Lane
- Avenue de Frankfurt and Avenue Franck
The foundation also invites any kindergarten to grade 12 student currently enrolled in a public school in Kentucky to submit a poster or other artwork containing “In God We Trust.”
But the artwork must “protest the motto, subvert the religious intent of the new law, or show why ‘In God We Trust’ is not an appropriate motto to place in a public school,” according to the FFRF .
The grand prize for the art competition is $ 500, with honorable mention prizes of $ 200 each, the foundation said.
âEach winning student will also receive a $ 1 ticket before ‘In God We Trust’, proof that the religious motto is a johnny-come-latest addition from the mid-1950s,â the FFRF said.
Students have until December 2 and can find more rules and information on how to submit their art to surveymonkey.com/r/C2C6GQ5.
The “In God We Trust” bill is less than a page long and was passed in March with bipartisan support from the Republican-led Kentucky legislature.
It requires that all public schools, starting in the 2019 school year, display the motto in a “prominent location”, such as an entrance or cafeteria.
There are no specific requirements as to how the currency should be displayed, which has led some schools to use creative methods to follow the new law.
Following: School district finds loophole for “In God We Trust” requirement with $ 1 bill
The Courier Journal previously reported how public schools in Jefferson County, the state’s largest district, hung posters that may have come from a social studies textbook.
An illustrated American flag flies in the background as the Statue of Liberty gazes out of the page. In the corner, a small paragraph explains the creation of the currency.
âIn God We Trustâ first appeared on coins in the 19th century as a result of âheightened religious sentimentâ around the Civil War, according to the US Treasury.
It only became the national motto in 1956, when Congress passed a law as an affront to the atheistic Soviet Union during the Cold War.
In 2000, a year after the Columbine school shooting, Colorado became the first state to require the motto be displayed in schools.
Kentucky has joined the latest wave of states to pass such legislation, which has reignited debates over the separation of church and state, as well as the place of religion in schools.
State Representative Brandon Reed R-Hodgenville, who drafted the Kentucky bill, said some of his inspiration came from the January 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School.
Shortly before being killed in the shooting, student Preston Cope took a photo of a framed print of “In God We Trust” that hung above a pencil sharpener in a Marshall classroom. County High School.
Cope’s parents later told lawmakers their son took inspiration from the motto, and Reed said he introduced the bill, in part, in honor of the student.
Reed, a minister, also told the Courier Journal earlier this year that the bill and motto was more about patriotic inspiration.
A lot of people try to make it “something religious,” Reed said, but courts have repeatedly ruled that the national motto is not for the government to endorse or push religion.
As the parents of Preston Cope, the child insanely killed in last year’s Marshall County High School shooting told me, ‘In God We Trust’, was a powerful inspiration for their son to see in his school, âReed said. in a statement. âThis sentiment has also been echoed to me by many other Commonwealth students. While I do not understand why some groups continue to attack our national currency and treat it with such contempt, no poster campaign is going to take away the joy of Kentuckians for our national motto.
The bill most closely resembles a resolution drafted by Blitz Project, a coalition of groups whose stated goal is to advance Judeo-Christian ideals.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said that “national Christian organizations” are behind the Blitz Project and the “In God We Trust” bills.
The foundation also said that students “shouldn’t have to walk past a sign at school that stigmatizes the growing number of Americans who are not religious (24 percent of adults and 36 percent of youth) and who offensively links patriotism to piety “.
FFRF co-chair Annie Laurie Gaylor said in the press release that “In God We Trust” is “not even accurate”.
âTo be precise you would have to say, ‘In God some of us trust,’ and that would make a very silly motto,â Gaylor said. “In our free country, ruled by an ungodly constitution, there should be no decisive religious tests for citizenship, and the government should not take sides on religious matters, much less treat believers as initiates and not -believers like strangers. “
Gaylor added that the motto should be replaced by “E pluribus unum”, which, according to the FFRF, “celebrates unity through diversity”.
Following: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Brags “Bring Your Bible to School”
Olivia Krauth contributed reporting.
Contact Billy Kobin at [email protected] or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.