Colorado Schools That Post Religious Motto Risk Lawsuit, Says Americans United

The Colorado State Board of Education voted 5-1 today to urge public schools to post the phrase "In God We Trust." Any school that follows that advice runs the risk of getting sued for violating the First Amendment, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Clair Orr, chairman of the state board, told The New York Times recently that "In God We Trust" does not necessarily have religious connotations. Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, a Christian minister, labeled that assertion "nonsense."

"Any Colorado school that posts this motto runs the risk of being sued," Lynn said. "The best advice I can give the schools is to ignore this foolish and irresponsible action of the state board.

"The Colorado Board of Education is trying to meddle in the religious lives of young children," Lynn added. "They have no business doing that and should in fact just butt out."

Continued Lynn, "Parents are the proper people to determine what religious views children are exposed to, not government bureaucrats."

Lynn noted that the "In God We Trust" campaign is being spearheaded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, an ultraconservative Religious Right group based in Tupelo, Miss.

"I find it hard to believe that Colorado parents want their children's schools run by remote control by a fundamentalist preacher in Tupelo, Miss.," Lynn remarked.

Attorneys for Americans United had warned the board in a June 30 letter that the resolution was irresponsible because it encourages local schools to engage in a potentially unconstitutional action. AU's attorneys pointed out that the Supreme Court has clearly stated that public schools may not promote religion, a stance it reaffirmed in a school prayer case from Texas just last month.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington. D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.