Gaston County, North Carolina, commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 10 to put the words “In God We Trust” on their courthouse.
The national motto will be put on the courthouse facade and in the entrance that faces out to the street. Though a religious phrase being placed on a government building is seen by many as controversial, Gaston County Commissioner Joe Carpenter said he and his colleagues simply felt compelled to pay tribute to the Founding Fathers.
“Because of the many leaders before me, beginning with the Founding Fathers,” Carpenter said when asked why the phrase was being displayed on the building. “Their faith in God is what built the greatest nation on earth.
“'In God We Trust' is our established motto,” he added. “And I think it is appropriate that we recognize that and hold it forward for people to know from whence (sic) it came.”
Many have objected to the vote, including the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which said it might explore legal action against the county. Carpenter said a Charlotte resident contacted him on Feb. 11, expressing his opposition to the vote, though the commissioner believes he was right to vote for the phrase’s display on the courthouse.
“He said he was raised in a religious family but is now an atheist,” Carpenter said. “But I feel my reasons for voting the way I did are very sound.”