The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday requiring public schools to post signs reading, "In God We Trust."

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

The bill passed 30-10, and a similar bill has passed the state's House of Delegates. The two Legislative branches still need to consider each others' bills.

Senate Democratic Leader Richard L. Saslaw was the only senator who spoke against the bill, saying it trivialized the word "God." He said the moral decline Rerras described has occurred largely in the years since Congress made "In God We Trust" the national motto in 1956. The motto's inclusion on coins and currency hasn't helped, he said.

"It is on the back of all of our currency — not the front, the back of our currency," Saslaw said. "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."

Saslaw proposed an amendment to make Rerras' bill effective only if Congress passes legislation requiring that the motto be posted in federal buildings. It was rejected.

"This country has clearly approved and indicated that the term 'In God We Trust' is a patriotic phrase and symbol that gives inspiration to the entire nation," Rerras said.