Bill by West Virginia State Senator Will Divide, not Unite

For God’s sake, govern instead of play games

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – According to an article written by West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Eric Douglas, the West Virginia legislature has taken another step closer to requiring public schools to display “In God We Trust” in every classroom.


This will be interesting to watch. I’ll let the lawyers argue the constitutionality of the question, as it seems a clear violation of the Separation of Church and State. Time will tell, as the courts are so politicized that the Rule of Law is no longer a given.

So, discerning whether or not this will stand is nearly impossible at this point. What is not hard to figure out is that this bill’s stated purpose will not be achieved. According to the article, “Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, is the primary sponsor on the bill. He said he thinks this will help unite people.”

No, it won’t. While “In God We Trust” became the nation’s official motto in 1956, it replaced a much more inclusive motto – E Pluribus Unum (Out of the Many, One).

Azinger cares nothing about uniting people. This bill is another cynical attempt by a politician to use religion to divide people to get votes. This bill invites the obvious question: Whose God? The one that loves, or the one that supports beheadings and mass shootings to “convert” sinners?

I experienced first hand as a child growing up in Clarksburg that this discriminatory thinking and behavior was quite unkind and perplexing. As a Catholic attending St. Mary’s and Notre Dame from the early 60s to early 70s, I experienced a good bit of discrimination. We lived in a neighborhood where the kids had no problem getting along. It was the parents telling us to hate each other because we went to different churches.

We have not progressed. Our political wars are based on questionable interpretations of the teachings of Jesus and fear of others. Fear is the key ingredient to controlling the minds of people.  In today’s polarized environment, that’s what having “In God We Trust” in every classroom will accomplish – fear and division. 

Putting our original motto on school classroom walls would not violate the Constitution, and more importantly, instill a very important value – indeed, the most important United States value – “Out of many, one.” With this, we teach cooperation and inclusion. So, I convey a question to Senator Azinger:  How, in light of today’s religious wars, is dividing teachers, children and parents going to bring people together?

Additionally, we should consider just how contradictory this bill is to West Virginia’s own motto, Montani Semper Liberi – “Mountaineers are always free.” That includes the freedom from propaganda and indoctrination by people that do not share the beliefs that West Virginia residents hold and wish to pass along to their children without interference from the State.

What Azinger proposes is nothing short of a politician re-employment act. He knows this bill will help his party in the next election cycle, even as it divides its residents. West Virginia has more than its fair share of problems. The legislators were elected to govern, not start social wars. So, for God’s sake, please govern and quit playing games. Until our elected officials learn that, our divisions will only grow.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2023. Feature photo by Guilherme Bustamante on Unsplash


  1. Thank you, Michael, for your strong critique. My take on the bill to force “In God we trust” into classrooms is that it violates the 3rd Commandment against taking God’s name in vain. What the bill’s proponents are doing is to leverage God to their own political advantage. It is their attempt to use God. In other words, totally contrary to actually trusting in God. It is only to a degree more subtle than, say, and advertiser claiming that God endorses Pepsi rather than Coca Cola.

    It would be great if government leaders actually practiced “trusting God.” Trusting God rather than trusting in Mammon (money), violence, slander, lies.  It would be great if they actually put into practice the Beatitudes (although doing so might make them unelectable?).

  2. Thank you for clearly stating the real reason behind this egregious sham, which is crass “politician re-employment”. And yes, you are 100% correct in stating that this bill will only create more division, hatred and fear, while doing nothing to create unity.

  3. A M E N !!!!! Well defended!

    “May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire.” ? D. Simone ________________________________

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