SANTA FE – Schools and other public buildings in New Mexico would have to display the national motto – “In God We Trust” – under legislation proposed by four Republican lawmakers.
The proposal, House Bill 115, calls for the motto to be displayed along with a representation of the U.S. flag.
Rep. David Gallegos, a Eunice Republican and co-sponsor of the measure, said the motto would be a reminder of Americans’ shared heritage and values.
“We’ve had a generation that doesn’t have pride in America,” said Gallegos, who’s also a school board member in southeastern New Mexico. “I was thinking of something that might be able to bring us back to a common ground.”
It isn’t clear whether the proposal will be taken up the session, which begins Jan. 21. Gallegos said he has asked Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, to add it to the agenda – a requirement because 30-day sessions are generally dedicated to financial matters.
“This would be a first step in how we introduce back some of our founding fathers’ ideals,” Gallegos said Thursday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said the proposal would divide New Mexicans, not bring them together.
“It’s unfortunate that these legislators would propose legislation that will likely have no practical effect but to alienate and antagonize people who do not subscribe to a formal religion or who do not want to see their government taking the side of one religion over others,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico. “Why not propose legislation that brings New Mexicans together instead of putting them at odds?”
The bill calls for “In God We Trust” to be displayed prominently in public school
and college classrooms, state buildings and libraries. It would have to be on a plaque, poster or framed paper of at least 11 inches by 14 inches.
Money to cover the purchase would come from donations, according to the bill.
The measure also proposes that the motto appear on license plates, but Gallegos said he wants to make that provision optional rather than mandatory.
He said he is also open to changes in the requirements for how to display the motto. For example, Gallegos said, he likes the idea of both the U.S. and New Mexico flags appearing with the motto.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a 1956 law adopting “In God We Trust.” The words also appear on U.S. currency.