A county in Washington has posted a banner showing the words "In God We Trust" in the county council chambers, almost nine months after local leaders voted on the measure.
Clark County officials posted the national motto in the hearings room of the county building on Nov. 19, the Columbian reports. The newly displayed banner hangs below the one depicting Clark County's own motto: "Proud past, promising future."
The Clark County Council met to vote on the proposal two times in February. The first vote came on Feb. 10 and failed to pass the council, according to Oregon Live. The second vote on the proposal came a mere two weeks later, on Feb. 24. Councilor David Madore said it would "improper or unwise to deny or shun" the national motto.
"It's not to Allah and its not to gods," Madore said. "It is what it is and we are not here to change it. We are here to recognize it and cherish and value and respect our heritage."
The final vote was preceded by more than four hours of passionate debate on both sides; Oregon Live reports that around 80 people spoke at the hearing on the issue, and that public opinion was fairly evenly divided.
One man argued that "religious matters need to be discussed with religious leaders, not politicians."
Others were concerned that the display of the motto equates to an endorsement of one religion to the exclusion of others, including Jonathan Bunn, an atheist.
"'Under God' has divided what was once considered indivisible," Bunn said. "I cannot swear allegiance to a flag when the republic for which it stands has a motto that excludes atheists like me."
Madore said that despite opposition from some citizens, the open debate on the subject of the motto proved that no one is going to be excluded. Councilors Madore and Tom Mielke supported the initiative, which was opposed by Councilor Jeanne Stewart; all three councilors are Republicans.