Providing for the display of the national motto “In God We Trust” in classrooms and other areas in public school buildings
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the National Motto Display Act.
Section 2. Legislative findings and declarations.
(1) The motto “In God We trust” is part of the history and heritage of the United States. On April 22, 2014, we will celebrated the 150th anniversary of our national motto “In God We Trust” on our coins. Although this phrase was not officially established as our national motto until a law was passed by the 84th Congress and approved by President Eisenhower, it was first introduced to the nation by Francis Scott Key in 1814 as words that would be included in our national anthem.
(2) It was a Pennsylvanian however, that installed those words on our coins. James Pollock from Milton, Pennsylvania, became our 13th governor serving from 1855 to 1858. He was known as “The Great Christian Governor.” Prior to Pollock’s term as Governor and as one of the original trustees when The Pennsylvania State University became a charter, he served as a member of the Congress of the United States and became friends with then congressman, Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln became president, he appointed Pollock director of the United States Mint.
(3) Pollock suggested the motto “In God We Trust” be featured on all United Stated currency. This practice first occurred in April of 1864 when Congress approved the use of the motto on the United States two-cent pieces. Since then, the motto has been inscribed on most denominations of coins in an uninterrupted period of time extending from the present back to 1916.
(4) In 1956, the Congress of the United States adopted the motto “In God We Trust” as the national motto. It is currently codified at 36 U.S.C. § 302 (relating to national motto). Since 1957, the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing has gradually incorporated the motto in the design on the reverse of all paper currency.
(5) On July 24, 2000, the United States House of Representatives, along with the concurrence of the Senate, unanimously resolved to encourage the display of the national motto of the United States in public buildings throughout the nation.
(6) To increase student understanding and familiarity with American historical documents, historically important excerpts from or copies of the documents should be prominently displayed in public school buildings.
(7) The Federal 5th, 9th, and 10th Circuit Courts have ruled that displaying the national motto passes constitutional muster so long as the purpose of the display is to advance or endorse the national motto rather than a particular religious belief or practice.
Section 3. Display of motto.
(a) Board of directors.—The board of directors of every school district in this Commonwealth shall display the motto “In God We Trust,”, which is declared in 36 U.S.C. § 302 (relating to national motto) to be the national motto of the United States, in each school building.
(b) Form.—The display of the motto “in God We Trust” may take the form of, but is not limited to, a mounted plaque or may include artwork as a result of a student contest that will be prominently displayed in each school building.
Section 20. Effective date.
This act shall take effect in 60 days.