Residents of Springfield, Missouri, crowded into City Hall to voice their opinions on a controversial proposal to put “In God We Trust,” the national motto, on the wall of the council chambers. Council members voted to table the issue until another time, frustrating the local community that has been debating the issue.
The proposal was made by recently elected councilman Justin Burnett. The phrase is found nearby in the Greene County Courthouse and police patrol cars of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, as well as other municipal and county properties in southwest Missouri.
Council Mike Schilling made the motion to table the issue. He wanted it to be sent to the plans and policies committee and to give time allow council members to consult with legal experts. A majority of members voted in agreement to have the issue tabled, KY3 reports.
Burnett says he is in favor of the motto getting installed and wanted to hear the audience’s opinions, reported The Washington Times. He said adding "In God We Trust" to the wall in council chambers did not have anything to do with Christianity. He said it was really about patriotism and the nation’s heritage.
Opponents think it would make non-religious people feel unwelcome in Springfield. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the motto does not constitute an official endorsement of religion, some residents are skeptical that it does not represent a violation of the separation church and state outlined in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Mayor Bob Stephens is against the proposal. He countered with a proposal to add the Latin phrase "E Pluribus Unum" which translates to "Out of Many, One." Others in opposition to the motto support the mayor.
"E Pluribus Unum" was the original unofficial motto of the U.S. until 1956 during the Cold War, when Congress changed it to "In God We Trust" to differentiate the U.S. from the secular Soviet Union.
The Springfield bills respective to both phrases were tabled, and it could take weeks or months before they are reconsidered.
Some Springfield residents for and against the motto were frustrated they were unable to voice their opinions. Mariah French, who is against the religious motto said tabling the motion was “very rude to the citizens of this community.”
Photo Credit: Screenshot via KY3