California School District to Vote Whether 'In God We Trust' Belongs In Classroom

Trustees of a school district in Bakersfield, Calif., will decide Monday night whether to allow posters bearing the nation's motto — "In God We Trust" — and other historical documents to be displayed in classrooms.

The display of posters of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights will also be voted on Monday night.

Kern County High School District trustee Chad Vegas initially proposed the measure as a way of promoting patriotism. But the idea has sparked a contentious debate.

Board President Bob Hampton, a former teacher in the district, told The L.A. Times that he'll vote against the posters because they reflect a "spiritual agenda."

"The spiritual side of students belongs at home and at church, not in the educational system," Hampton said.

The classroom displays were first suggested by the non-profit group In God We Trust — America Inc., whose president is Jacquie Sullivan, a Bakersfield councilwoman.

Sullivan told that she expects the measure to pass with the necessary 3 to 5 majority of trustees voting in favor, but said the issue would likely be over how many classrooms should carry the displays.

"I encouraged the trustees to put this on the agenda," she said. "It's very important. We need to promote patriotism and promote it in our schools. We can’t just assume that the younger generations are going to have that strong love for God and their country the way the older generations do."

Sullivan's organization has offered to provide funding for the project at Kern.

The councilwoman, who said she is a registered Republican and a Christian who attends a local Baptist church, told that she has neither a religious nor a political agenda in pushing for the measure.

"It’s not political. It’s not religious. It’s patriotism," Sullivan said. "American patriotism is love of God and love of country. It's pride in our country."

She believes schools are becoming more casual about teaching children to appreciate the ideals and values the United States was founded on, and she thinks it's important to "get back to the basics."

"Some schools have gotten so lax as to not be pledging allegiance to the flag everyday," Sullivan said. "We can easily get out of the habit of doing good things. (Patriotism) is something that continually needs to be taught."

And she believes that most Americans have faith in God, so having the national motto posted in school shouldn't offend anyone.

"We are faith-based people for the most part," Sullivan said. "Sometimes you have to go with the majority."

Other Bakersfield residents said there's nothing wrong with posting the nation's motto on classroom walls — even if it does mention God.

"Most kids in Bakersfield already have that seed planted, but for the others, it couldn't hurt," Malia Casarez told the Times. "My daughter is just 9 months old and I'm already scared of sending her to school, with all the things you hear about."

Trustee Bryan Batey said he could support displaying the posters in some classrooms, but not all. Two other members on the five-person board have said they do not support the proposal, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

If this measure does not pass, the board will vote on Vegas' original proposal to hang only the "In God We Trust" posters.

The vote is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST, but the public discussion will likely last for hours, according to Sullivan.

The Kern district superintendent's office and the office of trustees did not immediately return calls from seeking comment.