Alabama voters passed Amendment I during the midte

first_imgAlabama voters passed Amendment I during the midterm elections on Nov. 6, so the Ten Commandments is expected to make its way into public offices and school buildings soon. However, this amendment, paired with a similar law, still inspires a conversation about the separation of church and state among Alabamians. State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) of Jefferson County sponsored HB 145, which was introduced on the House floor on Jan. 9, 2018 and approved by lawmakers in February. The act allows public school buildings and offices to feature “In God We Trust” and is in effect as of July 1.The law grants the phrase being displayed on and in buildings such as public properties, schools, buildings, municipalities and state agencies. The Blount County Public School System plans to test the change, depending on the effects of legal pushback. Locals seem to be split on whether it would have a negative or positive impact on the state. University of Alabama sophomore Matthew Hosey said although he is a Christian, he does not want the bill to label Alabama as a strictly Christian state.“(The phrase) creates a state sponsorship of Christianity. I would not be happy about it if it said Allah or Buddha, so I can see how it would bother non-Christians,” Hosey said.UA student Rachel Terry believes the importance of the bill lies in preserving a phrase that has carried weight in the United States. “(The phrase is) on our dollars and “under God” is in our pledge. It’s hard because we don’t have an official religion in the U.S.,” Terry said.Terry said she supports deciding on the bill with a vote instead of just legislative approval, though with the passing of Amendment I on Nov. 6, she would not see Alabama budging from its traditionally Republican voting history. Congress declared “In God We Trust” the official motto of the United States in 1956. It is generally not allowed in public buildings or schools because of ideologies concerning separation of church and state, as well as laws on religious freedom seen in the First Amendment and Article Six of the Constitution. The phrase replaced the country’s de facto motto, “E pluribus unum,” a Latin phrase that means “out of many, one.”UA alumna Helmi Henkin sees the phrase, along with reciting “one nation, under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance as more of a formality kept in the name of tradition. Regardless of history, however, Henkin does not like the message of exclusion the phrase carries.“‘In God We Trust’ was allowed to be kept on coins and ‘under God’ was allowed to be kept in the Pledge of Allegiance because people found it ambiguous enough and more customary than infringing on the freedom of religion,” Henkin said. “But, I don’t think it’s fair or welcoming to those who may practice a religion that doesn’t stem from Christianity to force them to be exposed to and practice elements of a faith that they don’t ascribe to.”For 17-year-old Stewart Kennedy, the argument should be more focused on why the United States uses the phrase in the first place, instead of what it signifies.“The formation of America was solely based on wanting independence from Britain, religion being the main drive,” Kennedy said. “I don’t see this quote being added to the school system as a push toward the church, but mostly as remembrance of the reason we are able to live in a free country because the old Americans had such a huge drive in establishing a free country.”Henkin said she understands the impact Christianity has on American history, but she does not want Americans to believe the country operates under a singular faith.“Even though the overwhelming majority of the colonists who came to the United States and created our laws – including the Bill of Rights where freedom of religion is stated – were of some kind of Christian faith, I don’t think that it’s true to the values our nation claims to encompass if we limit freedom of religion to those who practice some sort of Christian faith,” Henkin said. Whether or not the law – as well as the Ten Commandments amendment – will be met with legal action is yet to be determined, but Alabamians can expect the divide to continue when it comes to separating church and state.last_img