Vancouver, Washington Commissioner Tom Mielke proposed a plan to have the motto “In God We Trust” displayed in a public hearing room. On Feb. 10, his suggestion was turned down when no other commissioners on the panel seconded his idea.
The hearing took place in front of a packed audience, and extra security was present because some feared the debate could become heated.
Among those who testified was supporter of the motto and veteran, Chaplain R. Brandon, who told the crowd, “I served in the Marine Corps, went to Vietnam, and I saw a lot of combat, and if it weren’t for God I wouldn’t be here today,” KOIN 6 News reports.
Opponent John Adams Bunn disagreed. "That motto does not represent me and all it does is slap me in the face,” he said at the hearing. “All it tells me is that I’m not welcome and I’m not an American.”
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Supporter Josephine Wentzel asked, “If these can bring hope to the majority of people in this nation, then why don’t we have it up in here?”
Jack Davis, who opposes the motto, said, “People who do put their trust in God certainly don’t need a sign to remind them.” Davis’ comment was met with applause from the audience.
The heart of the debate centered on the separation of church and state, and how the motto “In God We Trust” would affect non-Christians, according to KOIN 6 News.
“I’m very disappointed because I think the way it was spun or twisted was untruthful,” Mielke said. Mielke does not believe that the motto would be a violation of church and state, and that God is a generic term that represents different kinds of higher power and can, therefore, be applicable to all faiths, according to Oregon Faith Report.