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Thursday, March 17, 2011

"In God We Trust"

Our chapter on civic culture discusses the U.S. national motto, "In God We Trust." The motto has come up in previous posts, and is much in the news lately:

From Politico:

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) sponsored the resolution, which also encourages displaying the phrase in public buildings, schools, and other government institutions.

The phrase was made the official U.S. motto in 1956. It is inscribed on U.S. coins and bills.

“We don’t believe that it has changed since 1956,” Forbes told POLITICO. “We think it’s the right moto for us today. We just want to make that clear to the country.”

But the line also has its critics, who argue that the phrase is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Not surprisingly, the resolution has already drawn the ire of activists.

Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, accused House Republicans of using the vote as a means to “mollify religious conservatives.”

From KTUU:

The Alaska House of Representatives approved a measure Wednesday that would allow drivers to choose a special "In God We Trust" license plate design.

The bill passed 32-3, but without the support of some Majority Republicans.

Representatives Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage), Mia Costello (R-Anchorage), and Eric Feige (R-Chickaloon) voted against the proposal, which was sponsored by Anchorage Republican Rep. Bob Lynn.

"I'd just like to make a statement about what our priorities should be," said Hawker, who noted that his constituents have asked him to spend his time focusing on the economy, declining resource production, and healthcare.

From the Orange County Register [CA]:

"In God We Trust," the national motto, will be displayed on two walls of the council chambers when the new Laguna Niguel City Hall is completed later this year.

The City Council discussed the issue Tuesday night at the request of Mayor Gary Capata and Councilman Robert Ming. The new building, under construction at Alicia and Crown Valley parkways, is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. The motto will likely be installed at the front and back of the new council chambers.

"When people leave the council chambers, they'll think," Capata said. "The more I'm in favor of doing this; I think we're going to do it for the right reasons."

Capata added the motto will likely mean different things to different people.

"It'll be something people see, and they'll be able to discuss it like our founding fathers," Capata said.

Resident Zachary Schwartz attended the meeting with his father, the youth proudly wearing his Boy Scout uniform.

"Our founding fathers founded this country on Christianity," he said.

In contrast, resident Kris Stoddard pointed to the different conceptions of God, and the strife those disagreements caused worldwide.

"That whole thought process that God is Christian is part of the problem," she said.

In January, the issue came to a head in Lake Forest. After more than an hour of debate, the Lake Forest council decided in favor of displaying the motto in the council chambers, the 16th Orange County city to do so. In Laguna Niguel, though, the council agreed on the historical nature of the motto.