House File 444 flopped Wednesday in subcommittee. The bill would require schools to display the national motto, “In God We Trust.”
Emily Piper of the Iowa Association of School Boards said the group opposes the measure.
“Frankly we don’t think that it’s necessary and we have some real concerns about separation of church and state,” she said.
Connie Ryan of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund agreed.
“It is a constitutional violation,” she said. “And it’s just simply wrong.”
Bradley Hudson of the Iowa State Education Association said schools don’t have extra resources to put “In God We Trust” on their walls.
Brenda Brown of the Iowa Prayer Caucus said she supported the bill.
“We have children that do not know their God but they know Allah because they have got that information in our schools,” she said. “We want to take that confusion out. This is not a constitutional travesty or whatever you want to call it — this is in our constitution. Our constitution was built on God. Also, there is not a separation between church and state. There are companies that said they would support it and be able to put a document out for each school.”
Ryan responded to Rep. David Kerr when he asked if anybody would want a god of another sort on there too if this motto was displayed.
“Absolutely not,” Ryan said. “Promoting one religion over any other religion is unconstitutional and courts have been very clear on what schools can do around this. It is ridiculous to me to think that we’re going to publish ‘In God We Trust’ on a public school where all students attend of all faiths and no faith.”
Democrat Rep. Sharon Steckman said it’s an unnecessary mandate.
“We could be doing something else for schools like funding schools a little better,” she said. “Clearly (this) violates separation of church and state. Even Sen. (Amy) Sinclair over in the Senate said we don’t need regulations telling us what to do and what’s best for these kids. I think we can agree we don’t need to add something else to the load we’re putting on schools right now.”
Representative Joel Fry said he’d like to take some comments under advisement before moving the bill forward.
Kerr said he wouldn’t sign the bill either.
“We will just consider this bill if we can improve it,” he said.