The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday requiring all public schools to prominently display the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” somewhere on campus.
The state House passed the bill in the wake of the recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland amid mounting cries for legislative solutions to gun violence, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Democrats and Republicans who sponsored and supported the bill offered it as one such solution, saying that introducing and welcoming God into the school environment would combat the causes of mass shootings and other tragedies.
“He is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is not black or white,” bill sponsor Rep. Kim Daniels, a Democrat, said of God. “He is the light, and our schools need light in them like never before.”
Daniels, who is also a pastor, acknowledged that Florida has “gun issues,” especially with regard to violence against children and in schools. But, he said, for legislation to be effective it has to address more than just guns—it has to address the root of the problem.
“But the real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart,” Daniels said, according to the Times. “We cannot put God in a closet when the issues we face are bigger than us.”
The Florida lawmakers passed the bill by a vote of 97-10, then erupted in applause at the announcement of its passage. The state Senate has yet to put the bill to a vote.
Florida legislators introduced the bill in late January, arguing that students should be exposed to Florida’s history and legacy, and that faith in God was an integral part of that history. Bipartisan supporters lauded the bill as a necessary step not only for the state, but also as a beginning of a national return to acknowledging God.
Those who opposed the bill, among them the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, accused supporters of using what constitutional lawyers call the purpose, history, context test to legislate religious ideals.
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