Gaston County Courthouse in North Carolina added the motto “In God We Trust” to its outside sign on March 13. The public sign now reads "Gaston County Courthouse" with "In God We Trust" spelled out directly underneath.
Gaston County Commission Chairman Tracy Philbeck supported the idea of adding the motto. “I’m proud to say I live in a country that has a rich heritage of a trust in God,” Philbeck said last month. “Do I think putting that on a building makes everybody a Christian? Absolutely not. What I do think is that it honors our heritage and history,” according to the Gaston Gazette.
Philbeck argues that adding the motto is a sign of patriotism and that the argument of separation of church and state does not change the reasons why the United States was founded in the first place. “It is a fact this nation was founded by folks who were trying to flee religious persecution, and their faith had a huge impact on what they did,” Philbeck said, as reported by the Gaston Gazette.
Others are not so excited about the addition to the Gaston County Courthouse sign. Before County commissioners voted unanimously last month to install the motto, attorney Patrick Elliott, with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, indicated the group was “interested in taking a look at it.” He added: “We certainly oppose this action by the county government. We think it’s unconstitutional.”
Former Chairman of the Gaston County Democratic Party Robert Kellogg claims that patriotism is not a strong enough argument. “I think that’s a bit of a stretch,” Kellogg stated. “People will continue to debate whether In God We Trust should be on the side of a public building or on our money. But the real issue is should our elected officials be using county resources and time to promote personal beliefs?”
Sources: Gaston Gazette