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'In God We Trust' to be displayed at TN public schools

KNOXVILLE, TN (WATE) - "In God We Trust" will be on the walls of Tennessee schools as students head back to class. Leaders in Nashville passed a law in spring requiring the national motto to be shown at each school.

The first day of school is coming up quickly and the Distefanos are ready in some ways.

"Fifth grade is pretty hard, so I'm kind of looking forward but kind of not," said Emma Distefano.

Her mom, Pebby Distefano, says she has mixed feelings hearing that "In God We Trust" will be somewhere at her daughter's school. 

"I believe in God. My daughter believes in God. However, there are also people who do not believe in God that attend the same school that my daughter does and I would not want their religions imposed on my beliefs, as well as I know my beliefs don't need to be imposed on them," she said.

NBC4 sister station WATE posted to Facebook on Wednesday asking parents to share their thoughts about '"n God We Trust" going up at Tennessee Schools. Benjamin and Sabrina Cooper posted, "We need God in our schools and everywhere else."

Ruby Daniels commented, "Love it. Put God back in schools."

Others shared on Facebook their concerns with the new law. Carly Fils posted, "Seriously? It's ridiculous! Not all students are religious!"

Pati Sexton wrote, "Unconstitutional would be my thought. This is an illegal, government, endorsement of Christianity."

"There are more religions than just Christianity," posted Kelly Boring.

State Rep. Susan Lynn who sponsored this bill that's now law, said last month, "We hang the Constitution. We hang the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents in our schools, why not the national motto?"

The law outlines that local districts require each school to display "In God We Trust" in prominent places like an entry, cafeteria or common area.

"I think it's a good message that we don't trust in government. It's not government we trust, it's 'In God We Trust,'" added Rep. Lynn.

The motto can be a plaque, artwork or in another form. Lynn says if a school does not post the motto, there won't be any penalty.

Knox County Schools says when they learned legislation passed, they shared information with their principals.

Maryville City Schools says they've been printing and framing "In God We Trust" signs this week. Their principals will be getting those and choosing the best place to display them.

Loudon County Schools says they're waiting until students come back before deciding how to implement this legislation. They add that they've been speaking with student councils, getting them involved on the design and where signs should be placed.

The president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation - East Tennessee Chapter, Aleta Ledendecker says:

"If this were truly about honoring a historical motto, they would have used the original historical motto: 'E pluribus unum.' The original motto was inclusive. 'In God We Trust' is discriminatory. It excludes any religion except Christianity and all non-religious people. For that reason, it will cause some students to feel excluded in their schools which is where they should feel that they are part of the total community."


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