Virginia passes 'In God We Trust' bill

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Senate passed legislation Tuesday requiring public schools to post signs saying "In God We Trust" over the objections of a legislator who said it trivializes religion and will do nothing to promote good citizenship.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Nick Rerras, R-Norfolk, said the national motto offers a much-needed expression of hope in an era of terrorism and weakening moral values.

Mississippi has already passed similar legislation and Florida's House is to consider a bill requiring the motto be displayed in schools.

Senate Democratic Leader Richard L. Saslaw of Fairfax County was the only senator who spoke against the bill. "We are, in effect, simply trivializing the word 'God,'" he said.

Saslaw said the moral decline that prompted Rerras to introduce the bill has occurred largely since Congress made "In God We Trust" the national motto in 1956. The motto's inclusion on coins and currency has made no difference, he said.

"It is on the back of all of our currency -- not the front, the back of our currency," said Saslaw, holding a dollar bill aloft. "If you think this promotes either some type of good conduct or patriotism or whatever, keep in mind people will pull a gun out of their pocket and kill to get their hands on this piece of paper, so it does no such thing."

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