Republican lawmakers — including those in Arizona — are getting creative in their effort to sneak God into public-school classrooms.
An Arizona senator this session introduced a bill to allow teachers and administrators to post the state motto “Ditat Deus” or its English translation “God enriches” in classrooms.
And the idea isn’t unique to Arizona.
The Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would require “In God We Trust,” which is both the national motto and that state’s motto, to be prominently displayed in schools. Half a dozen other states are considering similar bills. In Alabama, there’s a push to display the motto on public property.
Arizona Senate Bill 1289, if signed into law, would add the state motto to Arizona’s list of national or historical phrases allowed to be read or posted in Arizona schools. That list already includes the national motto, but the bill clarifies that that motto is “In God We Trust.”
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The list also already includes the national anthem, pledge of allegiance, Arizona constitution, Declaration of Independence and acts of U.S. Congress.
SB 1289 has drawn the ire of critics who say its intent is to impose religious ideology into publicly-funded schools. The bill cleared the Senate with Republican support, Democratic opposition and little debate.
It now advances to the House for consideration.
In the few public comments about the bill, Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford and the bill’s sponsor, said allowing teachers and schools to post the state motto in English would “be a good history lesson for students to learn where this came from.”
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Tory Roberg, director of government affairs for the Secular Coalition for Arizona, said the advocacy group believes the proposed legislation is unnecessary and unconstitutional.
“This bill is clearly part of the legislature’s ideological push in recent years to chip away at secular government,” Roberg said in a news release.
“By rephrasing the historical motto Ditat Deus into English, this bill divorces it from its historic usage and illegally allows schools to promote the belief in the god associated with the Judeo-Christian Bible,” she said.