A Texas law requiring public schools “to assert the country’s collective trust in God” by displaying signs that declare “In God We Trust” in every public school classroom has come under scrutiny over the past couple of weeks as citizens have attempted—unsuccessfully—to donate signs with the motto in LGBTQ+ rainbow lettering or in Arabic. There is, of course, a reason these signs have been rejected, and it’s not the one-sign limit some have claimed. This pushback in fact only highlights the direct connection between the January 6th insurrection and these In God We Trust laws (along with the legislators behind them).
But first, here’s the most important thing about “In God We Trust”: We don’t. There is no “collective trust in God” because there’s no collective belief in the same, single god. The Jewish kid sitting in that classroom knows it’s not her god on that poster. So do the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Muslim children. The nonreligious, atheists, and agnostics certainly understand. They’re left out as well. Alienated by their own government. Deliberately. Never mind that perhaps two-thirds of Gen Z might be excluded, it’s understood by all that only Christians are included in “We.”
The exclusion is the point. Neither this bill nor the national motto “asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God,” as Texas State Senator Bryan Hughes claims. Both are meant to insinuate Christian Nationalism into the American identity. The goal here is to suggest that one particular species of conservative Christianity is government approved and is the choice of “We” the people. The goal is to suggest that they are the real Americans, the in-group, and everyone else is lesser and less than. And that is precisely the goal of Christian Nationalism.
Earlier this year I spearheaded and