OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House has backed a bill that would require hundreds of public buildings in the state to display the national motto, “In God We Trust.”

The House voted 76-20 on Tuesday in favor of the bill, sending it to the Senate, The Oklahoman reported.

Critics say the bill is an affront to the separation of church and state that could alienate nonreligious people. Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City, suggested that the bill is an election year stunt.

But the bill’s Republican sponsor, House Speaker Charles McCall, said it wasn’t intended to be a religious issue, but rather to honor the nation’s history.

“It means something different to everybody, but it is our nation’s motto,” he said. “It’s on our currency, it’s on buildings throughout this country, and I think it’s a good thing to embrace the positive things about our country’s history.”

The bill could cost the state an estimated $85,000 to place the signs in 342 state buildings. Others, though, say it could be more because the bill specifies that each displayed motto match the size and placement of the one in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

School buildings would not have to display the motto.

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