If Louisiana makes classrooms display "In God We Trust," this atheist will donate Arabic signs
The law doesn't say the signs have to be in English.
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The Louisiana legislature has passed a bill that would require public schools to display “In God We Trust” posters in every classroom. (The phrase is already required in every building, but apparently, that’s not good enough.)
On Monday, the State Senate voted unanimously to pass it. The State House did the same yesterday. Now the bill awaits the governor’s signature. (Even if Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the bill, which he won’t, there’s more than enough support to override it.)
And as soon as the bill becomes a law, one atheist is ready to pounce.
The bill says the religious posters must follow three rules:
The size of the poster or framed document must be 11 inches x 14 inches.
The phrase must be the “central focus” of the display.
The phrase must be printed in a “large, easily readable font.”
While the posters may be purchased by public schools, they can also be donated.
And that’s really where the sponsors of this bill screwed up… because they didn’t think about what happened in Texas.
Last year, when Texas pushed through a similar bill, the rules were so loose that they were just begging for creative interpretation.
Activist Chaz Stevens was up to the task. He quickly realized that the new law never said “In God We Trust” had to be written in English. (It was the “Air Bud” rule applied to church/state separation.)
So the atheist from Florida created a version of the poster with “In God We Trust” written in Arabic in order to send them to Texas schools. Stevens told me at the time, “I followed their ridiculous law, both in spirit and intent.”
I initially felt some hesitation about someone using Arabic to trash a conservative Christian law (the people who speak it are maligned enough as is), but these signs really just play on the bigotry of those who support the law. In other words, if you think this is offensive, then you’re the problem.
As if to make clear he wasn’t just going after people who speak Arabic, Stevens later designed posters in Vulcan, Hindi, and Hebrew.
So when he heard about the Louisiana law, with the exact same giant loopholes, he couldn’t resist repeating the stunt.
This time, he’s even better prepared. He’s already created a fundraiser to help him send 16” x 20” “double-sided high-gloss metal prints” of his posters to public schools across the state.
Specifically, he plans to “saturate the major metropolitan areas,” he told me.
He’s already printing signs in Arabic, Hindi, Klingon, “Star Trek Pride,” and Vulcan.
There are also these signs, because the law doesn’t say the posters can’t have Satan or a pentagram in the background…
They follow all the rules. After all, “In God We Trust” is still the “central focus” of those displays.
To be clear, none of the schools have to put these up in their classrooms, especially if they have other donated signs to choose from. But for teachers or administrators who want to push the boundaries in a legal way, or for schools that simply plan to put up whatever posters they’re given, these are golden.
In a brief statement to me, Stevens defended this form of activism even if the posters never go up:
… I don’t expect many wins, if any … rather, we’re on our forty yard line, and my job is to move the ball to the opposite forty.
That’s my playing field, and I’ll do that “by making stupid seriously stupider.” This is a goddamn inane law with the sole purpose of slowing installing a theocracy in our public space.
Pardon my French, but fuck that, not on my watch.
We ain't falling for it, Louisiana.
He’ll begin sending the posters out as soon as this bill becomes a law. You can help him pay for the signs by donating here.
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