Activist mocks Texas 'In God We Trust' school sign law with Arabic poster campaign

Activist mocks Texas 'In God We Trust' school sign law with Arabic poster campaign
To protest a new Texas law requiring schools to display donated signs reading 'In God We Trust', an activist has started a campaign to send signs in Arabic.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
27 August, 2022
The 'In God We Trust' motto is most frequently seen on US dollar bills [Alex Wong/Getty]

A new law requiring schools in the US state of Texas to display donated copies of the phrase "In God We Trust" has led an activist in Florida to send the schools posters with the words in Arabic.

A new Texas law requires that schools and universities must display a poster or a framed copy of the words "In God We Trust" - the national motto, most commonly associated with US dollar bills - in a conspicuous place if it has been donated or purchased from private donations. 

Chaz Stevens, the activist in Florida organising the campaign, noticed the law made no mention of any specific language, and thus saw an opening to highlight what he sees as the absurdity of the legislation.

"The law seemingly presumes these signs are written in English. Oopsie," Stevens wrote mockingly on his GoFundMe fundraising page.

"We're going to donate hundreds of Arabic-language 'In God We Trust' posters to schools in Texas, flooding the public school system with our Arabic IGWT artwork," he said.

Stevens described the law as an attempt to dilute the Constitution’s First Amendment, which indicates a separation between church and state. Texas, a traditionally conservative state, has in recent years increasingly veered away from the separation of church and state, leading to concerns about the quality of education.  

"Keep up the good work defending the separation of Church and State. Let's keep sticking it to the religious right!," wrote Kameron Seger, who donated $5 to the fundraiser.

"Words in a language other than English are still words (but maybe this is news in Texas). Thanks for your commitment to civilization," wrote Patricia Nault, who donated $50.

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Though Stevens said he has consulted with multiple Middle East translators to verify the accuracy of the motto's words, native Arabic speakers who have read the story online have been quick to point out the apparent “Google translate” quality of the Arabic.

Though the words themselves, "Nahnu Nithic Bi Allah", are correct, Arabic speakers can see that it is not a colloquially translated expression. A more colloquial translation would have been "Natukal bi Allah" or "Tawakalna 'Ala Allah" (literally "We rely on God").

Nevertheless, the message seems to be getting through, as the story continues to gain momentum for its cheekiness. 

As of late Friday afternoon, Stevens had raised more than $30,000 of his $250,000 goal.

He plans on replicating the motto posters in different languages.

"Future artwork will not only include Arabic, but also Hindu, Spanish, Chinese, and perhaps African dialects," he told CNN