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Tennessee moves to add "In God We Trust" to its Great Seal
The state's fortunes "are tied to its spiritual faith," said one lawmaker defending the bill
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This is the current “Great Seal” of Tennessee, the insignia used on official state documents:
It conveys quite a bit of information. Tennessee was the 16th state to enter the Union, agriculture has always been a large part of its economy, trade is vital in the state given the large rivers running through it. If anything it’s too busy and not easy to replicate. But it’s fine.
Yet Republicans in the state legislature now want to alter the seal by adding “In God We Trust” to it, injecting a religious phrase under the guise of patriotism.
Senate Bill 420 (sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe) and House Bill 771 (sponsored by Rep. John Holsclaw) call for the design of a new seal with the phrase by July 1, 2025. On Monday, the Senate version of the bill was passed unanimously (33-0).
Just consider how one of the bill’s sponsors promoted the legislation, not by referencing the National Motto, but by making it clear this was all about promoting his religion:
“Many of my constituents feel as I do that our seal should also reflect the importance of God as a constant reminder that our state’s agriculture, commerce, politics and economic fortunes are tied to its spiritual faith,” Crowe said.
“I do know that the courts have repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of this as an entrenched practice that does not prefer one religious denomination over the other and that Recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church, as the authors of our constitution intended to prohibit,” Crowe told News Channel 11. “I do however plan to run this by our attorney general.”
If Tennessee’s fortunes are “tied to its spiritual faith,” you have to wonder what the hell the legislators are doing to help their constituents. They’re apparently not needed. Crowe didn’t bother explaining what the connection is either because, of course, there’s no link at all. States with less religiosity rank higher than Tennessee in just about every area you can imagine, no matter who’s doing the survey.
This is nothing more than another way to inject Christianity—and make no mistake, “In God We Trust” is a promotion of Christianity—in a place where it’s not needed. This is what Tennessee lawmakers are doing instead of actually helping their constituents in any meaningful way. It’s a slap in the face to the ever-increasing number of Tennesseans who have no organized religious affiliation.
Aleta Ledendecker, president of the East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said in statement to me that Governor Bill Lee was trying to “turn the state into his own little theocracy.” She added: “It is political posturing and an easy slam dunk.”
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