ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene has entered another national conversation, this time on the mandatory display of “In God We Trust” signs in public schools. Texas Senate bill 797 passed in May of 2021, requiring a district to display the signs bearing the national motto, accompanied by the state and national flag, but only if the signs are donated to the district.

Jennifer Bell (left) and Tyler Lineweaver (right) of the Abilene Freedom League

“We were surprised to find that, so far, in the Abilene area, nobody has done that yet,” said Tyler Lineweaver with Abilene Freedom League (AFL).

Lineweaver told KTAB/KRBC the AFL is a ‘third party watchdog,’ making sure ‘constitutionality is upheld in the Abilene area.’ Lineweaver added that his organization was happy to provide the signs for Abilene area schools.

The AFL began raising money in October, taking in nearly $2,000. Part of those funds were used to make the signs, and the surplus was used to donate said signs to an Abilene program intended to help local students who may be experiencing homelessness.

Bell and Lineweaver present check to Darrin Cox with Abilene Homeless Student Program

While many states have enacted their own versions of the law, some groups have pushed back, saying the mandate violates the separation of church and state.

“If they’re allowed to put up signs like this, there should be no reason that other students or people can’t put up signs that have different messaging,” Southlake Anti-Racism Coalition co-founder, Anya Kushwaha advocated.

Bill author, Texas State Senator Bryan Hughes, said there was no political motivation behind his bill. Rather, it was a way to specify national identity in Texas schools.

“It’s not political,” Hughes assured. “It’s just about coming together and acknowledging our dependence on God.”

Signs presented by the Abilene Freedom League

Continuing, Lineweaver told KTAB/KRBC the AFL had no intent to tout any one religion over another. But, he did admit to holding the United States, at it’s core, as a nation founded on Christianity.

“These signs are important for multiple reasons,” Lineweaver insisted. “The first one is, we’ve seen, Christianity is under attack in our nation.”

The same signs presented to AISD at Monday’s school board meeting will be presented to the Wylie ISD board next week. Per state law, they will be hung at every AISD and WISD campus – pending sign inspection.