Two weeks after declining to even vote on the issue, the County Council of Clark County, Washington, voted Tuesday to display the motto “In God We Trust” in the council’s chambers.
The Oregonian reports the measure passed with a 2-1 vote, with Councilor Jeanne Stewart saying she preferred to wait until the other two seats on the council were filled before deciding on the sensitive issue.
After councilors heard more than two hours of public comment on the issue two weeks ago, Councilor Tom Mielke moved to vote on the matter but he failed to collect a second for his motion.
The day after the measure failed to come to a vote, Councilor David Madore signaled that he would support the measure if it were more detailed.
“We have a county motto, and that motto represents us as a local community,” Madore said, according to The Columbian. “This local community is not a silo. We don't stand alone. We are a part of a nation, and this nation, America, has its motto. And we are a part of America, and it would be very appropriate to add our nation's motto, also.”
Madore said he wanted to ensure he knew exactly how the motto would appear and he already had ideas about how it should look.
“It would be the same font you'd find on the penny, and brass in color,” Madore said at the time.
Bringing the issue back after two weeks sparked more debate. Councilors listened to four hours of public comment prior to Tuesday’s vote.
Jonathan Bunn, an atheist, said he was opposed to the motto being posted in a public building.
“‘Under God’ has divided what was once considered indivisible,” he said. “I cannot swear allegiance to a flag when the republic for which it stands has a motto that excludes atheists like me.”
But others, like David Tortora, told councilors he supported displaying the motto and didn’t want God removed from public life.
“Trusting God is a part of our heritage as a nation,” he said.
“It's not to Allah and its not to gods,” he 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.”
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