About 40 community members in Oregon attended a town hall meeting to discuss whether to engrave the phrase, ‘In God We Trust,’ into a county courtroom wall.
Last December, Klamath Falls city commission chairman Tom Mallams suggested adding the contested phrase to the wall of the public hearing room.
When first proposed, a large portion of the Klamath Falls community was in favor of it.
“It’s on all our money, it’s on all our coinage,” county commissioner Jim Bellet said. “I don’t see anything wrong with putting it on a government building.”
In 1956, President Eisenhower signed a law making “In God We Trust” the national motto of the U.S., according to the Department of Treasury. The phrase began to appear on all forms of currency a year later.
Public opinion in the town moved more towards not adding the quote to the courtroom in the last couple weeks.
Austin Folagy, a resident of Klamath County, said he thinks the sign may hinder people from buying property in the area.
“I want young families and young people to come and fall in love with this county,” he said. “I want that regardless of their race, their religion or creed.”
Others said they think this issue creates unnecessary division within the community.
“Choosing one faith over another by placing the proposed plaque in this room is not only unconstitutional, it is morally wrong,” said Trish Seiler, a Klamath Falls city councilmember. "It is not the American way."
In the face of this new opposition, city commissioners welcomed people at the town hall to volunteer new ideas to put on the back wall.
While some suggested writing Klamath County’s motto, ‘Working for you,’ on the wall, Folnagy said he liked the suggestion posed by a friend’s 3-year-old daughter.
“Rather than ‘In God We Trust,’ why don’t we say, ‘In Love We Trust,’ because God is love?” he said.