“In God We Trust” is now displayed above the main entrance to the Union County Government Center in North Carolina.
The U.S. Motto Action committee paid for the display. It has also paid to install the phrase outside the Gaston County Courthouse and other government buildings, reports Fox 46 Charlotte.
Chairman of the group Richard Helms said, “The motto goes back, first printed on coins in 1864 and in 1956 it was put on our currency by President (Dwight D.) Eisenhower. I think its represented by the faith we have in our county and in God.”
The phrase’s designation as the national motto and its placement on money came at the height of the Cold War, and near the end of the second Red Scare, roughly 1947-1957, where Americans had heightened fear of communists.
The move was in part to distinguish the U.S. from the Soviet Union’s atheist agenda.
The U.S. Motto Action committee raises money for the signs. Vice Chairman Rick Lanier discussed a plan to have “In God We Trust” signs displayed outside of the Criminal Courts Building, Administration Building, as well as inside the county commissioner’s meeting chambers of Alamance County in April 2015, according to WCNC.
Lanier had served on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners until 2002. That year, the county decided to display “In God We Trust” on government buildings but was challenged by a lawsuit in 2003. According to court documents, the lawsuit alleged the signs violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment which mandates a separation of church and state.
Davidson commissioners dismissed the plaintiff’s action. The district court dismissed the complaint. Following an appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the move, and later the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Lanier said the U.S. Motto Action Committee was formed to help raise funds to fight the lawsuit.
Since then, in good legal standing, he contacted Gaston County Commission Chairman Tracy Philbeck in late 2014 to suggest it use the phrase, the Gaston Gazette reports. Having turned to advocacy since the lawsuit, the group has worked to raise donations to pay for more “In God We Trust” signs in other counties.
Those counties now include Ashe, Brunswick, Caswell, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Gaston, Lee, Lincoln, Moore, Pender, Robeson, Rowan, Stanley, Union and Yadkin, all of which have agreed to display the signs as well as 14 municipalities in North Carolina, reports The Times-News.
The U.S. Motto Action Committee’s moves have been opposed by groups including the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists. Lanier has also claimed to have been “bullied” and “pushed away” by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via Fox 46 Charlotte