Written by Don Byrd

As students return to school this month, those in Tennessee will see something new on the walls. That’s because the legislature has enacted a law requiring public schools to post “In God We Trust” in a prominent place on campus.

As Knoxville’s WATE reports, even some Christian parents are not excited about this development:

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.

Emma’s mom makes a strong argument! Public school grounds should be designed to support every child, and should make all feel welcome and included, regardless of their faith, or their lack of faith. The “In God We Trust” motto may seem only a small nod to religion, in the scheme of things, but young children especially could easily believe that the public school system is aligned with religion or with a particular religious viewpoint. That is reason enough to oppose laws such as this.

Children who feel excluded or their upbringing challenged should not have to face religious ostracism just to attend public school. And children who feel their religion is supported by their school are being deprived of the more fulsome choice of conscience that true religious freedom allows. Religious liberty doesn’t just mean that government will pose no obstacle to your faith. It also means government will do religion the favor of not trying to help.

As other states are considering similar legislation around the country it’s worth remembering: the more government uses its influence to support religion, the more acts of faith become less and less voluntary. And religion must be voluntary to be vital!