Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pierce County First In Northwest To Approve 'In God We Trust' Motto Display

Ad Meskens

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington Tuesday voted to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers. That makes it the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to become part of a national campaign to feature the motto.

But the approval came with a twist.

Self-described agnostics, humanists and a Jew testified that the public display of the "In God We Trust" motto would alienate them their government. The chief proponent, Pierce County Councilmember Jim McCune, said he views the motto as universal.

"It is our national motto," he said. "It is not religious. It is not a church-state issue. It has been settled in the courts."

The divisiveness prompted another councilmember to propose the substitution of an earlier national motto, "E Pluribus Unum." - Latin for "Out of many, one." Finally, a council majority decided to prominently display both. The final vote was 4 to 3.

A California-based nonprofit group called In God We Trust~America promotes that motto's display. It lists nearly 400 city and county councils as having joined its movement in recent years. Until this week, none on that list were in Oregon, Idaho or Washington.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.