Eleven legislative rooms in the Kentucky Statehouse will display signs reading “In God We Trust” thanks to a private donor.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the signs are a temporary measure, and they will eventually be replaced by permanent displays that will show an updated version of the state seal in addition to the national motto. The Kentucky legislature passed a measure calling for the signs in 2006.
Kentucky Senate President, Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) gave an explicitly sectarian rationale for the measure.
“This is America,” he said. “I feel like this nation was and is established by God. We need to show the same respect in the committee rooms that we show in the Senate and House chambers.”
Stivers added that he was working on a “religious freedom” bill to introduce in the legislature this year.
But church-state separation advocates questioned the move, while noting that the courts have ruled the national motto is constitutional. Rob Boston, Americans United’s communications director, explained the group’s position to the Herald-Leader. “We just believe that government is supposed to represent everyone — the religious and non-religious,” he said.
The ACLU’s Kentucky affiliate agreed. “But separation of church and state is one of the basic principles in our country,” said spokeswoman Amber Duke. “It protects both religious and non-religious persons.”
Duke also suggested that a non-profit called “In God We Trust” encouraged the legislature to display the signs, noting the group had been “shopping these signs around to legislators in various states.”