NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Two state lawmakers from Northeast Tennessee have sponsored bills that would incorporate the language “In God We Trust” into the Tennessee state seal.
State Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and State Representative John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton) introduced Senate Bill 0420 and House Bill 0771 respectively. The senate bill was filed for introduction on Jan. 24, and the house bill was introduced on Jan. 30.
As of Monday, SB0420 had passed on first and second consideration and had been referred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
If passed, the bills would request that Tennessee Governor Bill Lee submit a new design to the seal by July 1, 2025.
Crowe responded to an inquiry from News Channel 11 regarding the bill and said while the current seal “reflects the importance of agriculture and commerce” in Tennessee, it could benefit from tying in faith.
“Many of my constituents feel as I do that our seal should also reflect the importance of God as a constant reminder that our state’s agriculture, commerce, politics and economic fortunes are tied to its spiritual faith,” Crowe said.
Crowe pointed to the phrase’s inclusion on U.S. currency and its presence on the state seals of Florida, Georgia and Mississippi as other reasons for introducing the bill.
“I do know that the courts have repeatedly upheld the constitutionality of this as an entrenched practice that does not prefer one religious denomination over the other and that Recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church, as the authors of our constitution intended to prohibit,” Crowe told News Channel 11. “I do however plan to run this by our attorney general.”
News Channel 11 also reached out to Holsclaw for a comment on the proposed legislation.