Another bill that failed to advance during the 2019 legislative session was Rep. Skyler Wheeler’s (R-Orange City) legislation that would have required schools display the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
Wheeler said he has seen similar legislation pass in other states.
“I saw it passed in Florida and I believe there have been other school districts around the country, especially in the south, that have done it,” Wheeler said. “I think it would be important to have our schools remember that God is the ultimate reason why the United States is the greatest country on Earth.”
House File 444 was given a hearing in subcommittee, but it failed. Emily Piper of the Iowa Association of School Boards said at the subcommittee the Iowa Association of School Boards had concerns about separation of church and state.
Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund said the bill is a constitutional violation. Bradley Hudson with the Iowa State Education Association said districts don’t have extra resources to put “In God We Trust” on the walls.
“It costs no more than about $75 to put up a banner, which is all this would require,” Wheeler said. “It does not establish a state church. It does not force anybody to believe anything a certain way. It simply makes a statement that in the state of Iowa we trust God, we don’t trust government.”
Wheeler said the bill resembles what America’s Founders believed.
“With academia continuing to push socialism on our young people with a belief rooted in government essentially being God, it is important to remember that our trust should not be put into material things or to the government especially, but ultimately to God himself,” Wheeler said. “As our Founding Fathers believed.”
Ultimately Wheeler said the bill would do no harm.
“People are throwing a fit about it because they despise our Judeo-Christian values and our Judeo-Christian heritage — if people looked past that they would understand that there would be no harm whatsoever in a school district displaying our motto,” Wheeler said.
Representatives David Kerr (R-Morning Sun), Joel Fry (R-Osceola) and Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) made up the subcommittee. The subcommittee did not advance the legislation.