Due to a new state law, many Texas students will likely see “In God We Trust” signs popping up in public school classrooms.

Senate Bill 797, passed in the last legislative session, requires that any posters donated (or purchased by private donations) featuring the national motto should be visible in Texas classrooms. 

Patriot Mobile, a Texas-based cell phone company that donates to conservative causes, has donated many framed posters in an effort to bring God back into public schools. The company recently donated posters to North Texas-area Carroll ISD.

“Patriot Mobile has donated framed posters to many other school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and we will continue to do so until all the schools in the area receive them,” the company posted.

Other groups, like Moms for Liberty and the Yellow Rose of Texas Republican Women, have also donated to schools in the Austin and Houston metroplexes. 

In 2003, Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) co-authored a bill allowing the saying to be posted in public schools. During last year’s legislative session, he wanted to take it a step further.

“The national motto, In God We Trust, asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God.” Hughes tweeted. “I co-authored the bill in 2003 that allowed schools to display the motto, and last year I authored the “In God We Trust Act,’ which requires a school to display the motto.” 

While there considerable support for the act, many on the left claim it violates the separation of church and state. 

“These posters demonstrate the more casual ways a state can impose religion on the public,” Sophie Ellman-Golan of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) told The Guardian. “Alone, they’re a basic violation of the separation of church and state. But in the broader context, it’s hard not to see them as part of the larger Christian nationalist project.”

Ellman-Golan also claimed displaying these posters in classes is deeply connected to concerns like women’s health and education. 

In the Dallas suburb of Southlake, a group called the Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition (SARC) released a statement saying:

SARC is disturbed by the precedent displaying these posters in every school will set and the chilling effect this blatant intrusion of religion in what should be a secular public institution will have on the student body, especially those who do not practice the dominant Christian faith.

While some groups and parents are concerned about putting the mention of God back in schools, a Keller ISD parent said he supports the move. 

If it’s important to communities, the community will come behind it,” Erik Leist told FOX 7. “If it’s not something that the community values, it’s not gonna end up in the school.”

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.