The first day of school is always full of new things. There are new teachers, new clothes, new backpacks and a new start. In many public schools in Texas this school year there's something else that's new: "In God We Trust" signs.

There are a lot of passionate people who believe that education in Texas and our society in general began to suffer when "God" was "removed." There was a time when school prayers were common, not just in Texas, but everywhere in the United States.

In 1962, The United States Supreme Court in Engle v. Vitale ruled: "The state cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if participation is not required and the prayer is not tied to a particular religion." This case has been debated ever since. For 60 years, there have been passionate people on both sides.

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Jump forward to today and Texas. A new law was recently passed here in Texas making it mandatory for a public school to display "In God We Trust" signs if they are publicly donated:

Senate Bill 797, as passed by the 87th Legislative Session, requires a public elementary or secondary school or an institution of higher education to display in a conspicuous place a framed copy or durable poster of the national motto, “In God We Trust,” under certain circumstances:

  • Donated or purchased from private donations
  • Representation of the U.S. flag centered under the national motto, and representation of the state fla
  • No other words, images, or language

State Senator Bryan Hughes, who co-sponsored the bill, wrote this about his support of the bill:

The national motto asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God. I co-authored the bill in 2003 that allowed schools to display it, and last year went further, saying not only is a school allowed to display that statement of faith, but a school must do so if there is no cost associated with the display.

The legislature is always looking to increase community involvement in our schools, so I’m encouraged to see groups coming forward to provide these reminders of the motto to future generations.

This is the reason more and more schools are displaying the signs. More and more organizations around Texas are working to raise money to donate those signs to schools. It's their way to bring God back into schools.

Of course, there are strong opinions on both sides. The argument is much older than Engle v. Vitale. Public opinion is like a rising tide. Times change and prevailing opinions meander. But for this day and this school year, proponents of "In God We Trust" signs in schools are enjoying a moment of victory.

One thing we can be sure of: it's not the last we've heard about this subject.

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