The city council in Venice, Florida, is to debate a motion next week to have “In God We Trust” signs installed on public buildings.
The move is backed by City Councillor Emilio Carlesimo, who told mysuncoast.com,
“I think ‘In God We Trust’ should be displayed in government facilities.”
The plan would see a sign installed in the council chamber, and for Carlesimo, there’s nothing controversial about it.
“It’s on our money, it’s on everything, it’s what our country was based on.,” he argues.
Michael Barfield of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strongly disagrees, pointing out the importance of the division of church and state instituted by the founding fathers in the American constitution.
"That phrase is noted to be not neutral. It is distinctly Christian. Religion brings out a lot of emotions, and that's why we think the Founding Fathers said, when it comes to government, we have to be neutral.”
Next week’s council debate on this issue will only be the latest in a growing number of attempts to have “In God We Trust” signs placed on public buildings.
Earlier this month, a decision was taken in Alamance County, North Carolina, to display “In God We Trust” signs on three government buildings.
The trend began in Davidson County, North Carolina, in 2002. After the ACLU sought to block the move, a district court and an appeals court ruled that the placing of signs on Davidson County’s government buildings was legal.
The controversy has led to the formation of two competing campaign groups. The US Motto Action Committee, based in Davidson County, campaigns for counties and cities to introduce “In God We Trust” signs. It was involved in the Alamance County initiative, but reports do not confirm if it has anything to do with the current debate in Venice.
Meanwhile, the Original Motto Project suggested in an email to Venice City Council that it should choose the words “i pluribus unum,” Latin for “out of many, one.” This is widely considered to be the motto of the United States.