NEW ORLEANS — When students walk through the doors at public schools like Ben Franklin High School on the lakefront, they’re going to see some sort of sign with the four words ‘In God We Trust.’
The State of Louisiana now mandates the signs show up somewhere on display, even if it’s just a paper sign like the one at Franklin.
Behind the desk in the school office at Franklin is the sign.
“We have chosen to put it up by the American flag and Louisiana flag, which is a place that all students can see,” said Eve Peyton, a spokesperson for Ben Franklin.
The phrase, ‘In God We Trust,’ was declared the national motto decades ago. Beth Deitch, of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, says the motto is unamerican. “I would ask Christians how they feel if a sign was put up in schools that said ‘In Allah We Trust?’”
“It’s divisive to communicate to students that are not Christian,” she said. “(It says) that they’re not welcome in the school. The school is not for them.”
Along with the signs, Louisiana public schools must also educate the students of the history of the words ‘In God We Trust.’
“We have them on dollar bills and the court system,” said Jim Kelly, who runs the Christian non-profit Covenant House that works with troubled youth. “As a nation, much of what is written is we are dependent on the graciousness, providence, grace of God.”
Kelly said he believes the signs will help kids.
“I think it’s saying to our young people, we believe, we trust in God,” he said. “It’s a good life lesson.”
As for school administrators in the middle of the debate, Peyton says, “The law says we have to do it, so we’ve got it up there.”
New Orleans public schools say that the law doesn’t apply to charter schools, so while they are not required to abide by the new law, they may choose to put up the signs.