Lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives are poised to take up a vote on a measure that if passed, would require all public school districts to display the state motto “In God We Trust."

  • Florida House will vote on 'In God We Trust' bill
  • Bill would require districts to display motto in 'conspicuous' place
  • Will go into effect July 1 if passed, approved

An education committee passed House Bill 839 to the House this week. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville), who said in the past she believes kids need a daily reminder about the state’s motto.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Judy Wills of Orlando. “It’s our nation’s motto. I think it’s fine; I like it.”

Similar efforts in other states have stirred debate.

Joseph Richardson, a member of the Central Florida Free Thought Community, said he believes the measure violates the expression of separation of church and state.

“To have this kind of religious motto pushed onto, especially impressionable students, seems to be out of touch with the ideals of the Constitution,” Richardson said.

A Pew survey in 2016 found 82 percent of adults in Florida “absolutely” or are “fairly certain” in their belief in God. The same survey found 13 percent of adults in Florida “aren’t sure” or don’t believe in God at all.

House Bill 839 would require districts to display the state motto “In God We Trust” in a “conspicuous place” in every school and district building. The bill, however, does not define “conspicuous," the form in which the motto is to be displayed or who would pay for it.

Orange County Public Schools has 225 schools and work locations. Additionally, Osceola County Schools has 93, Brevard County Schools has 86, and there are 64 schools in Seminole County.

A vote on the measure is pending in the House, as a companion bill in the Senate is making its way through that Chamber.

If it passes the full legislature and wins approval from Gov. Rick Scott, the bill would become law July 1.