God is back in Dodge City schools – at least on the walls.
The legendary western Kansas town’s Board of Education voted 5-2 Monday to place “In God We Trust” posters in the district’s 18 facilities.
“This is a big nationwide movement,” says Dodge City resident Laura Francis, 1st Congressional District Republican Party chair. “There are teams in every state that are really just pushing their local and state governments to display our national motto in schools and government buildings and businesses. We’ve been able to accomplish that in quite a few places out here in western Kansas.”
Indeed, the central Kansas town of Haven’s city council recently voted to return “In God We Trust” to police cars after having taken it off earlier. In 2019, South Dakota likewise passed a law requiring all public schools in the state to display the national motto.
Dodge City Unified School District 443 board member and father of three Jerad Goertzen, newly elected last year, proposed the move a few weeks ago. He said he wants students to have an appreciation for both the United States and morality.
“First of all, I think we need to have a conversation in this country about the division,” Goertzen told The Heartlander, “and if we can’t unite America on our motto and our flag and all of those things, we have a problem.”
Goertzen, who is deputy police chief, was inspired by his chief’s decision several months ago to put up “In God We Trust” posters at the department’s headquarters.
The other motivation, he said, was a breakdown in values in American society, tragically illustrated by mass shootings in schools and elsewhere.
“We have morality issues in our schools,” he said. “And being a Christian, I know that morality comes from God and following his word and doing the right thing. And you know, we have all these shootings and teenage kids getting pregnant and drug use and all these other things, and yet you can’t talk about what’s right and wrong — and just understand what our founders built this country on, what their real design was supposed to be.”
Goertzen said the ultimate goal is to imbue students with an appreciation for America’s founders and their principles.
Francis, who’s married to the police chief, said she and other supporters were at the board meeting Monday with “In God We Trust” posters.
Board members expressed concerns about legal challenges, but in the end, Francis says, “I think that they felt it was the right thing to do. Many of them touched on the fact that ‘In God We Trust’ was signed into law in 1956 by President Eisenhower as our national motto.”
Francis said there are stirrings that Dodge City officials may include the national motto on police cars and in city buildings.
“We’re going to continue to push this out, because we feel like it’s that important,” Francis said. “I think we’re going to see more of that. It’s catching fire. The people want to see God back in our institutions.”