SALT LAKE CITY — "In God We Trust" will join Ski Utah! and Delicate Arch as a standard license plate option for Utahns.
Gov. Gary Herbert signed HB127 Monday, removing the $5 fee for the specialty plate and making Utah the 19th state to standardize the "In God We Trust" license plate.
The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
"As we see what's happening in the world, for me, it's a reflection of God's omnipotence and his love for us as his children, so I think this is a good reminder for us that in God we do trust," Herbert said. "That's where we should put our trust, not in the arm of flesh. I think that will help us guide this state and help us guide this nation."
The governor said the plate makes an "important statement" as Americans, and reflects the nation's history and Founding Fathers.
"For example, (President) John Adams said our Constitution was made for only a religious and moral people. He said he found it totally inadequate for any other kind of people," Herbert said. "In a time when we see the challenge of God and worship of God and religious rights being threatened, I know that's a concern."
Since the Utah Legislature made the "In God We Trust" plate available for an extra fee in 2013, it's been a popular choice among Utahns, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem. Last year, more than 5,000 were issued.
"I think it just shows how representative this plate is of Utah values," Peterson said. "As Utah continues to embrace the national motto 'In God We Trust,' I think this is another way for all of us to be able to show our support and our belief in God."
HB127's floor sponsor, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, addressed criticism that surfaced on the Senate floor that the bill violates separation of church and state. He noted that the phrase has overcome numerous court challenges.
"It's been on our coinage for over 100 years," Weiler said. "It's our national motto, and it's taken on a meaning other than just religion. … I think it will be very popular, and I think it's very appropriate."
Herbert said the plate's popularity shows Utah has a "history of believing in God and having a trust in God."
"This state was founded by people who came here believing God was leading them to a place where they could have refuge from persecution and worship God according to the dictates of their own conscious," the governor said. "It's part of our history. It's part of our legacy, and I expect that's why so many of our people have embraced it."