October 2019 – Thanks to a new state law that took effect in July, South Dakota public school students will notice a new message on display this fall. All public schools in the state’s 149 districts are required to display the national motto, “In God We Trust,” in prominent locations. Lawmakers who proposed the law said the hope is to inspire patriotism in the state’s schools.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), however, encouraged its members to contact their legislators to express opposition to the law. FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said, “Our position is that it’s a terrible violation of freedom of conscience to inflict a godly message on a captive audience of school children.”
Anticipating opposition, Associated School Boards of South Dakota executive director Wade Pogany said, “… we had asked the legislature to put a ‘hold harmless’ clause into the bill. The state would then defend the schools and pay the cost of the defense.” According to Pogany, schools are already complying in various ways.