Commissioners in Stokes County, North Carolina, have unanimously backed a proposal by the US Motto Action Committee to install an ‘In God We Trust’ sign on the courthouse building.
Commissioners apparently agreed to back the plan after being reassured that the bill would be covered by the campaign group, according to the Winston Salem Journal.
“This is their bill to pay and if they have to defend it, they will pay for that, too,” chairwoman Ronda Jones commented. “We can’t deny that it is our national motto.”
The move could prove controversial in an area where religious disputes have flared up previously.
In 2007, neighboring Forsyth County was sued for inviting clergymen to pray before commission meetings.
Then in 2010, a US District Court ruled that sectarian prayer should be banned at Forsyth County Commissioners’ meetings.
“With everything we’ve been through recently, I would’ve preferred not to take this on right now, but it was the consensus of board,” Jones stated. “I just want some solidarity here.”
However, Fred McClure, a commissioner in Davidson County and the head of the Motto Action Committee, was adamant that the time was right.
“We’ve been straying from the values we’ve had,” he commented, as reported by the Winston Salem Journal. “We need the recognition that our national motto means something.”
McClure’s group has agreed to raise between $1,000 and $3,000 to install the sign, according to WFDD.
“It’s over the Senate and House Chambers and it goes way back to the Civil War,” McClure told WFDD. “If you’re proud of America, and proud of the United States, which everyone who lives here should be, this is just an attempt to recognize that.”
Other organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have been less enthusiastic. Displaying the sign on public buildings breaches the principle of the separation of church and state, they argue.
It was Davidson County, where McClure is a commissioner, which first installed an ‘In God We Trust’ sign in 2002.
But the aim now is much broader, with McClure telling WFDD that his group is pushing for every county in North Carolina to adopt the motto.