Tennessee and Kentucky Schools: God in, Guns out

Barb Wire

They’re four simple words, but in the face of so much confusion and tragedy, they might just be the four students need most. Tennessee legislators are counting on it, hoping their bill to post “In God We Trust” in schools will give their kids something positive to focus on for a change.

The debate over what Congress and parents can do to stop gun violence will rage on, but there are small, significant gestures — like putting the national motto up in local classrooms — that might at least start sending the right message. Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wyoming are all considering it, especially after the horrible events of Parkland led everyone to wonder just how wise it had been to kick God out of schools. Tennessee’s bill passed the state senate unanimously before its impressive showing (81-8) in the house.

“Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem,” said the measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Susan Lynn. “Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom, and we should teach our children about these things.”

If Governor Bill Haslam signs the bill (and he hasn’t indicated whether he will), it will take effect immediately. Tennessee would also join the near-dozen states who’ve decided to make public statements about the importance of God in public life.

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In Kentucky, leaders aren’t just stopping at physical displays. Bluegrass officials are considering a bill that would set aside the last Wednesday in September as “A Day of Prayer for Kentucky’s Students.” “Given all that our students are facing…” Rep. Regina Huff (R) said soberly, “our students need to know that we are standing with them. We all need to embrace this and be united in an effort of support in each individual’s manner of prayer for our schools, students, and administrators.” Governor Matt Bevin (R-Ky.), who’s been a champion of religious liberty, agrees that the problem isn’t guns — it’s the culture. “We can’t celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics, and remove any sense of morality and sense of higher authority — and then expect that things like this are not going to happen.”

It’s time, he said, for a repentant nation to call on God. The Kentucky House must agree. It passed the bill by an 83-5 landslide.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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