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‘In God We Trust’ motto endorsed for schools

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The plaque "In God We Trust" will likely hang in public schools. E Pluribus Unum won't.

The Utah House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed Rep. Richard Siddoway's HB79, a bill that requires that the United States' official motto "In God We Trust" be placed prominently in each public school building.

Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, who said he worries the motto will send the message that the United States is only a Christian nation, tried to amend HB79 to say that the country's unofficial motto "E Pluribus Unum, which means one out of many, also be listed next to In God We Trust. But in a close vote, Litvack's amendment failed.

HB79 then passed in a 65-6 vote. The bill likely will pass the Senate and be approved by Gov. Mike Leavitt. Litvack, who is Jewish, said he worries that non-Christian students and parents may feel badly about the motto in schools. Moving to Utah in high school, Litvack said he attended a meeting in his synagog to hear an elected official say "you now live in a Christian country." But he wasn't a Christian.

He said a fundamentalist Christian group is going around the country trying to get the motto placed in public buildings. Their's is a religious endeavor, not a patriotic one. And non-Christians should feel welcomed in their own schools and public buildings, Litvack said.

Siddoway said religious ideals, not just one religion's ideals, should be back in schools. That would help everyone. He decided to run the bill at the request of a constituent, not a group, he said.