The New Jersey-based American Atheists society, founded by the late Madalyn Murray O’Hair, has issued a letter to over 260 superintendents across the state, warning them that the group is ready to file suit in federal court if they comply with a new Arkansas law that requires framed copies of the phrase “In God We Trust” to be displayed in every Arkansas public school classroom.
Act 911, which arose from House Bill 1980 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville), requires superintendents and administration officials of all state agencies to display the “In God We Trust” motto, the flag of Arkansas and the United States flag in all classrooms, libraries, and any other public building “maintained or operated by state funds.” It was signed into law by Governor Hutchinson in April. As stipulated in Act 911, the “In God We Trust” displays must be purchased with private funds and donated.
From the American Atheists letter:
“When the people advocating for this law tell us it’s about acknowledging religion and pushing religion on public school students, we should take them at their word, It’s a sham, and we’re not going to sit idly by while the rights of students, parents, and teachers are being attacked… American Atheists warns the state’s school superintendents that the requirement to post the displays is unconstitutional and asks that they reject any and all gifts, donations, or contributions for the displays. American Atheists has received complaints from many Arkansans across the state and is prepared to file suit to protect their rights and the rights of all Arkansans.”
American Atheists, founded in 1963 by O’Hair, is a nonprofit that often litigates over First Amendment issues.
They’ve already received at least one response from an unnamed Arkansas superintendent, who wrote to Blackwell, in part: “I will pray for you that you believe in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and become saved or be burdened so bad you will repent. May God have mercy on your soul!!!”