Home > Uncategorized > Florida Legislator’s “Vision” Results in Mandate: “In God We Trust” Must Be Displayed In Exchange for Cash

Florida Legislator’s “Vision” Results in Mandate: “In God We Trust” Must Be Displayed In Exchange for Cash

May 5, 2018

Several years ago, one of Jean Shepherd’s books of essays was titled “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”. That title might have been the inspiration for an amendment passed as part of a recent piece of legislation introduced by Florida legislator Kimberly Daniels. Here’s the way WUFT, an NPR affiliate, describes Ms. Daniels amendment:

A new state law set to take effect July 1 will redirect millions from sales taxes to fund vouchers for literacy tutors and increase the percentage of teachers’ union members required to pay dues. Section 22 of HB 7705 also requires school boards to display “In God We Trust” in all schools and associated buildings. It was amended to add language from another bill Daniels sponsored: HB 839.

“When we remove God,” she said in a February house session, “we remove hope.”

What inspired Ms. Daniels to add this language, which she belied would unify the state?

The day before a Florida House of Representatives session, Rep. Kimberly Daniels was visiting state prisons. The gate on one read: “In God We Trust.”

“I was thinking to myself, ‘Wow, does a child have to wait until they get to prison to see “In God We Trust”’?” said State Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat.

WUFT’s reporting on this legislation underscored the preposterousness and superfluous nature of this amendment, noting that in Florida there are far more pressing issues than whether a phrase that appears on the State flag and all US Currency needs to be “prominently displayed” in public schools. Using a serious plumbing problem at one of the schools in the station’s broadcasting area as an example, the station underscored a clear facilities problem that trusting in God will not fix. The report also emphasized the potential divisiveness of this amendment:

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation in Florida is studying the law and looking for ways to protect Floridians’ rights, said Kara Gross, the organization’s legislative counsel.

“Public schools are for secular learning,” Gross said. “The concern is that mandating a religious enforcement goes against the very crux of church and state.”

Gross also said the new law endorses one set of religious beliefs, which she said sends a thinly veiled message: Only students who believe in God are welcome.

“It makes some people feel welcome and makes others feel like they’re not welcome,” Gross said. “That’s why this is so concerning.”

The station also noted how this might impact God-fearing religious practitioners who are NOT Christian, citing the conundrum that Muslims, who trust in God as much as Christians, do not get time off from school to celebrate their Holy Days.

Ms. Daniels’ amendment WILL achieve one result, though: it will shift the conversation away from two issues that are especially problematic for Florida public schools: funding inequities and safety problems caused by the prevalence of guns.

 

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